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Shacks, and Shanties 

-r^-^ -. ^ 1 mi ^ 

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Shacks, and Shanties 


With Illustrations by the Author 


Charles Scribner's Sons 




Copyright, 1914, by 

Published September, 1914 




As this book is written for boys of all ages, it has been 
divided under two general heads, "The Tomahawk 
Camps" and ''The Axe Camps,'' that is, camps which 
may be built wdth no tool but a hatchet, and camps that 
will need the aid of an axe. 

The smallest boys can build some of the simple shelters 
and the older boys can build the more difficult ones. The 
reader may, if he likes, begin with the first of the book, 
build his way through it, and graduate by building the log 
houses; in doing this he will be closely following the his- 
tory of the human race, because ever since our arboreal 
ancestors wdth prehensile toes scampered among the 
branches of the pre-glacial forests and built nestlike 
shelters in the trees, men have made themselves shacks 
for a temporary refuge. But as one of the members of 
the Camp-Fire Club of America, as one of the founders 
of the Boy Scouts of America, and as the founder of the 
Boy Pioneers of America, it w^ould not be proper for the 
author to admit for one moment that there can be such a 
thing as a camp without a camp-fire, and for that reason 

the tree folks and the "missing link" whose remains were 


viii Foreword 

found in Java, and to whom the scientists gave the awe- 
inspiring name of Pithecanthropus erectus, cannot be 
counted as campers, because they did not know how to build 
a camp-fire; neither can we admit the ancient maker of 
stone implements, called eoliths, to be one of us, because 
he, too, knew not the joys of a camp-fire. But there was 
another fellow, called the Neanderthal man, who lived in 
the ice age in Europe and he had to be a camp-fire man 
or freeze! As far as we know, he was the first man to 
build a camp-fire. The cold weather made him hustle, 
and hustling developed him. True, he did cook and eat 
his neighbors once in a while, and even split their bones 
for the marrow ; but we will forget that part and just re- 
member him as the first camper in Europe. 

Recently a pygmy skeleton was discovered near Los 
Angeles which is claimed to be about twenty thousand 
years old, but we do not know whether this man knew 
how to build a fire or not. We do know, however, that 
the American camper was here on this continent when 
our Bible was yet an unfinished manuscript and that he 
was building his fires, toasting his venison, and building 
"sheds" when the red-headed Eric settled in Greenland, 
when Thorwald fought with the "Skraelings," and Bi- 
arni's dragon ship made the trip down the coast of Vine- 
land about the dawn of the Christian era. We also know 
that the American camper was here when Columbus with 
his comical toy ships was blundering around the West 
Indies. We also know that the American camper watched 
Henry Hudson steer the Half Moon around Manhattan 
Island. It is this same American camper who has taught 

Foreword ix 

us to build many of the shacks to be found in the following 

The shacks, sheds, shanties, and shelters described in 
the following pages are, all of them, similar to those used 
by the people on this continent or suggested by the ones 
in use and are typically American; and the designs are 
suited to the arctics, the tropics, and temperate climes; 
also to the plains, the mountains, the desert, the bog, and 
even the water. 

It seems to be natural and proper to follow the camp as 
it grows until it develops into a somewhat pretentious log 
house, but this book must not be considered as competing 
in any manner with professional architects. The build- 
ings here suggested require a woodsman more than an 
architect; the work demands more the skill of the axe- 
man than that of the carpenter and joiner. The log 
houses are supposed to be buildings which any real out- 
door man should be able to erect by himself and for him- 
self. Many of the buildings have already been built in 
many parts of the country by Boy Pioneers and Boy 

This book is not intended as an encyclopedia or history 
of primitive architecture; the bureaus at Washington, and 
the Museum of Natural History, are better equipped for 
that purpose than the author. 

The boys will undoubtedly acquire a dexterity and skill 
in building the shacks and shanties here described, which 
will be of lasting benefit to them whether they acquire 
the skill by building camps "just for the fun of the thing" 
or in building them for the more practical purpose of fur- 

X Foreword' 

nishing shelter for overnight pleasure hikes, for the wilder- 
ness trail, or for permanent camps while living in the open. 

It has been the writer's experience that the readers 
depend more upon his diagrams than they do upon the 
written matter in his books, and so in this book he has 
again attempted to make the diagrams self-explanatory. 
The book was written in answer to requests by many peo- 
ple interested in the Boy Scout movement and others in- 
terested in the general activities of boys, and also in 
answer to the personal demands of hundreds of boys and 
many men. 

The drawings are all original and many of them in- 
vented by the author himself and published here for the 
first time, for the purpose of supplying all the boy readers, 
the Boy Scouts, and other older ^'boys,'* calling them- 
selves Scoutmasters and sportsmen, wuth practical hints, 
drawings, and descriptions showing how to build suitable 
shelters for temporary or permanent camps. 

Daniel Carter Beard. 
Flushing, Long Island, 
April i, 1914. 



Foreword v 

I. Where to Find Mountain Goose. How to 

Pick and Use Its Feathers .... i 

II. The Half-Cave Shelter 7 

III. How TO Make the Fallen-Tree Shelter 

and the Scout-Master 11 

IV. How TO Make the Adirondack, the Wick- 

Up, the Bark Teepee, the Pioneer, and 

the Scout . 15 

V. How TO Make Beaver-Mat Huts, or Fag- 
ot Shacks, without Injury to the Trees 18 

VI. Indian Shacks and Shelters 22 

VII. Birch Bark or Tar Paper Shack ... 27 

VIII. Indian Communal Houses 31 

IX. Bark and Tar Paper 36 

X. A Sawed-Lumber Shanty 39 

XI. A Sod House for the Lawn 47 

XII. How to Build Elevated Shacks, Shanties, ■* 

AND Shelters 52 

XIII. The Bog Ken . 54 

xii Contents 


XIV. Over-Water Camps 62 

XV. Signal-Tower, Game Lookout, and 

Rustic Observatory 65 

XVI. Tree-Top Houses 72 

XVII. Caches 77 

XVIII. How to Use an Axe 83 

XIX. How to Split Logs, Make Shakes, 
Splits, or Clapboards. How to Chop 
A Log in Half. How to Flatten a 
Log. Also Some Don'ts 87 

XX. Axemen's Camps 92 

XXI. Railroad-Tie Shacks, Barrel Shacks, 

and Chimehuevis 96 

XXII. The Barabara 100 

XXIII. The Navajo Hogan, Hornaday Dug- 

out, AND Sod House 104 


XXV. How to Cut and Notch Logs . . . 115 

XXVI. Notched Log Ladders 119 

XXVII. A Pole House. How to Use a Cross- 
cut Saw and a Froe 122 


Stunts 126 

XXIX. The Adirondack Open Log Camp and a 

One-Room Cabin . 129 

Contents xiii 


XXX. The Northland Tilt and Indian Log 

Tent 132 

XXXI. How TO Build the Red Jacket, the New 
Brunswick, and the Christopher 
Gist 135 

XXXII. Cabin Doors and Door-Latches, Thumb- 
Latches AND Foot Latches and How 
TO Make Them 139 

XXXIII. Secret Locks 145 

XXXIV. How TO Make the Bow- Arrow Cabin 

Door and Latch and the Deming 
Twin Bolts, Hall, and Billy . . . 151 

XXXV. The Aures Lock Latch 155 

XXXVI. The American Log Cabin 161 

XXXVII. A Hunter's or Fisherman's Cabin . . 169 

XXXVIII. How TO Make a Wyoming Olebo, a 
HoKO River Olebo, a Shake Cabin, 
A Canadian Mossback, and a Two- 
Pen or Southern Saddle-Bag House 171 

XXXIX. Native Names for the Parts of a Ka- 
NUCK Log Cabin, and How to Build 
One 177 

XL. How TO Make a Pole House and How 
TO Make a Unique but Thoroughly 
American Totem Log House . . . 183 

XLI, How to Build a Susitna Log Cabin 
AND How to Cut Trees for the End 
Plates 191 

xiv Contents 


XLII. How TO Make a Fireplace and Chimney 

FOR A Simple Log Cabin 195 

XLIII. Hearthstones and Fireplaces .... 200 

XLIV. More Hearths and Fireplaces . . . 203 

XLV. Fireplaces and the Art or Tending the 

Fire 206 

XL VI. The Building of the Log House . . . 211 

XLVII. How to Lay a Tar Paper, Birch Bark, or 

Patent Roofing ........ 218 

XL VIII. How TO Make a Concealed Log Cabin 

Inside of a Modern House .... 230 

XLIX. How TO Build Appropriate Gateways for 
Grounds Enclosing Log Houses, Game 
Preserves, Ranches, Big Country Es- 
tates, AND Last but not Least Boy 
Scouts' Camp Grounds 237 

Shacks, and Shanties 



It may be necessary for me to remind the boys that 
they must use the material at hand in building their 
shacks, shelters, sheds, and shanties, and that they are 
very fortunate if their camp is located in a country where 
the mountain goose is to be found. 

The Mountain Goose 

From Labrador down to the northwestern borders of 
New England and New York and from thence to south- 
western Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, the 
woodsman and camper may make their beds from the 
feathers of the ''mountain goose." The mountain goose 
is also found inhabiting the frozen soil of Alaska and fol- 
lowing the Pacific and the Rocky Mountains the Abies 
make their dwelling-place as far south as Guatemala. 
Consequently, the Abies, or mountain goose, should be a 
familiar friend of all the scouts who live in the mountain- 
ous country, north, south, east, and west. 


2 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Sapin — Cho-kho-tung 

I forgot to say that the mountain goose (Figs, i and 2) 
is not a bird but a tree. It is humorously called a goose 
by the woodsmen because they all make their beds of its 
"feathers." It is the sapin of the French-Canadians, the 
cho-kho-tung of the New York Indians, the balsam of the 
tenderfoot, the Christmas-tree of the little folk, and that 
particular Coniferae known by the dry-as-dust botanist as 
Abies. There is nothing in nature which has a wilder, 
more sylvan and charming perfume than the balsam, and 
the scout who has not slept in the woods on a balsam bed 
has a pleasure in store for him. 


The leaves of the balsam are blunt or rounded at the 
ends and some of them are even dented or notched in 
place of being sharp-pointed. Each spine or leaf is a 
scant one inch in length and very flat; the upper part is 
grooved and of a dark bluish-green color. The under-side 
is much lighter, often almost silvery white. The balsam 
blossoms in April or May, and the fruit or cones stand 
upright on the branches. These vary from two to four 
inches in length. The balsam-trees are seldom large, not 
many of them being over sixty feet high with trunks from 
one to less than three feet through. The bark on the 
trunks is gray in color and marked with horizontal rows 
of blisters. Each of these contains a small, sticky sap like 
glycerine. Fig. i shows the cone and leaves of one of 
the Southern balsams known as the she-balsam, and 
Fig. 2 shows the celebrated balsam-fir tree of the north 
country, cone and branch. 

Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Balsam Beds 

The balsam bed is made of the small twigs of balsam- 
trees. In gathering these, collect twigs of different 
lengths, from eighteen inches long (to be used as the foun- 
dation of the bed) to ten or twelve inches long (for the top 
layer). If you want to rest well, do not economize on 
the amount you gather; many a time I have had my bones 
ache as a result of being too tired to make my bed prop- 
erly and attempting to sleep on a thin layer of boughs. 

If you attempt to chop off the boughs of balsam they 
will resent your effort by springing back and slapping you 
in the face. You can cut them with your knife, but it is 
slow work and will blister your hands. Take twig by 
twig with the thumb and fingers (the thumb on top, 
pointing toward the tip of the bough, and the two fore- 
fingers underneath) ; press down with the thumb, and with 
a twist of the wrist you can snap the twigs like pipe-stems. 
Fig. 3 shows two views of the hands in a proper position 
to snap off twigs easily and clean. The one at the left 
shows the hand as it would appear looking down upon it; 
the one at the right shows the view as you look at it from 
the side. 

Packing Boughs 

After collecting a handful of boughs, string them on a 
stick which you have previously prepared (Fig. 4). This 
stick should be of strong, green hardwood, four or five 
feet long with a fork about six inches long left on it at 
the butt end to keep the boughs from sliding off, and 
sharpened at the upper end so that it can be easily poked 
through a handful of boughs. String the boughs on this 
stick as you would string fish, but do it one handful at a 
time, allowing the butts to point in different directions. 

Mountain Goose 5 

It IS astonishing to see the amount of boughs you can 
carry when strung on a stick in this manner and thrown 
over your shoulder as in Fig. 5. If you have a lash rope, 
place the boughs on a loop of the rope, as in Fig. 6, then 
bring the two ends of the rope up through the loop and 
sling the bundle on your back. 

Clean Your Hands 

When you have finished gathering the material for your 
bed your hands will be covered with a sticky sap, and, 
although they will be a sorry sight, a little lard or baking 
grease will soften the pitchy substarce so that it may be 
washed off with soap and water. 

How to Make Beds 

To make your bed, spread a layer of the larger boughs 
on the ground; commence at the head and shingle them 
down to the foot so that the tips point toward the head 
of the bed, overlapping the butts (Fig. 7). Continue this 
until your mattress is thick enough to make a soft couch 
upon which you can sleep as comfortably as you do at 
home. Cover the couch with one blanket and use the 
bag containing your coat, extra clothes, and sweater for a 
pillow. Then if you do not sleep well, you must blame 
the cook. 

Other Bedding 

If you should happen to be camping in a country des- 
titute of balsam, hemlock, or pine, you can make a good 
spring mattress by collecting small green branches of any 
sort of tree which is springy and elastic. Build the mat- 
tress as already described. On top of this put a thick 
layer of hay, straw, or dry leaves or even green material, 
provided you have a rubber blanket or poncho to cover 

6 Shelters, Shacics, and Shanties 

the latter. In Kentucky I have made a mattress of this 
description and covered the branches with a thick layer 
of the purple blossoms of ironweed; over this I spread 
a rubber army blanket to keep out the moisture from 
the green stuff and on top of this made my bed with my 
other blankets. It was as comfortable a couch as I have 
ever slept on; in fact, it was literally a bed of flowers. 



The first object of a roof of any kind is protection 
against the weather; no shelter is necessary in fair weather 
unless the sun in the day or the dampness or coolness of 
the night cause discomfort. In parts of the West there 
is so little rain that a tent is often an unnecessary burden, 
but in the East and the other parts of the country some 
sort of shelter is necessary for health and comfort. 

The original American was always quick to see the 
advantages offered by an overhanging cliff for a camp 
site (Figs. 9, 10). His simple camps all through the arid 
Southwest had gradually turned into carefully built houses 
long before we came here. The overhanging cliffs pro- 
tected the buildings from the rain and weather, and the 
site was easily defended from enemies. But while these 
cliff-dwellings had reached the dignity of castles in the 
Southwest, in the Eastern States — Pennsylvania, for in- 
stance — the Iroquois Indians were making primitive camps 
and using every available overhanging cliff for that pur- 

To-day any one may use a pointed stick on the floor of 
one of these half caves and unearth, as I have done, 
numerous potsherds, mussel shells, bone awls, flint arrow- 
heads, split bones of large game animals, and the burnt 
wood of centuries of camp-fires which tell the tale of the 
first lean-to shelter used by camping man in America. 


8 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Half Caves 

The projecting ledges of bluestone that have horizontal 
seams form half caves from the falling apart of the lower 
layers of the cliff caused by rain and ice and often aided 
by the fine roots of the black birch, rock oak, and other 
plants, until nature has worked long enough as a quarry- 
man and produced half caves large enough to shelter a 
stooping man (Figs. 8, 9, and 10). 

Although not always necessary, it is sometimes best to 
make a shelter for the open face of such a cave, even if we 
only need it for a temporary camp (Fig. 10); this may be 
done by resting poles slanting against the face of the cliff 
and over these making a covering of balsam, pine, hem- 
lock, palmetto, palm branches, or any available material 
for thatch to shed the rain and prevent it driving under 
the cliff to wet our bedding. 


It is not always necessary to thatch the wall; a num- 
ber of green boughs with leaves adhering may be rested 
against the cliffs and will answer for that purpose. Set 
the boughs upside down so that they will shed the rain 
and not hold it so as to drip into camp. Use your com- 
mon sense and gumption, which will teach you that all the 
boughs should point downward and not upw^ard as most 
of them naturally grow. I am careful to call your atten- 
tion to this because I lately saw some men teaching Boy 
Scouts how to make camps and they were placing the 
boughs for the lads around the shelter with their branches 
pointing upward in such a manner that they could not 
shed the rain. These instructors were city men and ap- 
parently thought that the boughs were for no other pur- 
pose than to give privacy to the occupants of the shelter, 

10 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

forgetting that in the wilds the wilderness itself furnishes 

The half cave was probably the first lean-to or shelter 
in this country, but overhanging cliffs are not always found 
where we wish to make our camp and we must resort to 
other forms of shelter and the use of other material in such 



Now that you know how to make a bed in a half cave, 
we will take up the most simple and primitive manu- 
factured shelters. 

Fallen-Tree Shelter 

For a one-man one-night stand, select a thick-foliaged 
fir-tree and cut it partly through the trunk so that it will 
fall as shown in Fig. 1 1 ; then trim off the branches on the 
under-side so as to leave room to make your bed beneath 
the branches; next trim the branches off the top or roof 
of the trunk and with them thatch the roof. Do this by 
setting the branches with their butts up as shown in the 
right-hand shelter of Fig. 13, and then thatch with smaller 
browse as described in making the bed. This will make a 
cosey one-night shelter. 

The Scout-Master 

Or take three forked sticks (A, B, and C, Fig. 12), and 
interlock the forked ends so that they will stand as shown 
in Fig. 12. Over this framework rest branches with the 
butt ends up as shown in the right-hand shelter (Fig. 13), 
or lay a number of poles as shown in the left-hand figure 
(Fig. 12) and thatch this with browse as illustrated by the 


12 Shelters, Shacks , and Shanties 

left-hand shelter in Fig. 13, or take elm, spruce, or birch 
bark and shingle as in Fig. 14. These shelters may be 
built for one boy or they may be made large enough for 
several men. They may be thatched with balsam, spruce, 
pine, or hemlock boughs, or with cat-tails, rushes (see 
Figs. 66 and 69) or any kind of long-stemmed weeds or 
palmetto leaves. 

To Peel Bark 

In the first place, I trust that the reader has enough 
common sense and sufficient love of the woods to prevent 
him from killing or marring and disfiguring trees where 
trees are not plenty, and this restriction includes all set- 
tled or partially settled parts of the country. But in the 
real forests and wilderness, miles and miles away from 
human habitation, there are few campers and conse- 
quently there will be fewer trees injured, and these few 
will not be missed. 

Selecting Bark 

To get the birch bark, select a tree with a smooth trunk 
devoid of branches and, placing skids for the trunk to fall 
upon (Fig. 38), fell the tree (see Figs. 112, 113, 114, 115, 
116, 117, and 118), and then cut a circle around the trunk 
at the two ends of the log and a slit from one circle clean 
up to the other circle (Fig. 38) ; next, with a sharp stick 
shaped like a blunt-edged chisel, pry off the bark carefully 
until you take the piece off in one whole section. If it is 
spruce bark or any other bark you seek, hunt through the 
woods for a comparatively smooth trunk and proceed in 
the same manner as with the birch. To take it off a 
standing tree, cut one circle down at the butt and another 
as high as you can reach (Fig. 118) and slit it along a 
perpendicular line connecting the two cuts as in Fig. 38. 

14 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

This "vvill doubtless in time kill the tree, but far from 
human habitations the few trees killed in this manner 
may do the forest good by giving more room for others to 
grow. Near town or where the forests are small use the 
bark from the old dead trees. 

Using Bark 

To shingle with bark, cut the bark in convenient sec- 
tions, commence at the bottom, place one piece of bark 
set on edge flat against the wall of your shelter, place a 
piece of bark next to it in the same manner, allowing the 
one edge to overlap the first piece a few inches, and so on 
all the way around your shack ; then place a layer of bark 
above this in the same manner as the first one, the 
end edges overlapping, the bottom edges also overlapping 
the first row three or four inches or even more. Hold 
these pieces of bark in place by stakes driven in the ground 
against them or poles laid over them, according to the 
shape or form of your shelter. Continue thus to the 
comb of the roof, then over the part where the bark of the 
sides m.eets on the top lay another layer of bark covering 
the crown, ridge, comb, or apex and protecting it from the 
rain. In the wigwam-shaped shelters, or rather I should 
say those of teepee form, the point of the cone or pyramid 
is left open to serve as chimney for smoke to escape. 



The Adirondack 

The next shelter is what is generally known as the 
Adirondack shelter, which is a lean-to open in the front 
like a "Baker" or a "Dan Beard" tent. Although it is 
popularly called the Adirondack camp, it antedates the 
time when the Adirondacks were first used as a fashionable 
resort. Daniel Boone was wont to make such a camp in 
the forests of Kentucky. The lean-to or Adirondack camp 
is easily made and very popular. Sometimes two of them 
are built facing each other with an open space between 
for the camp-fire. But the usual manner is to set up two 
uprights as in Fig. 15, then lay a crosspiece through the 
crotches and rest poles against this crosspiece (Fig. 16). 
Over these poles other poles are laid horizontally and the 
roof thatched with browse by the method shown by Fig. 6, 
but here the tips of the browse must point down and be 
held in place by other poles (Fig. 10) on top of it. Some- 
times a log is put at the bottom of the slanting poles and 
sometimes more logs are placed as shown in Figs. 15 and 
16 and the space between them floored with balsam or 

The Scout 

Where birch bark is obtainable it is shingled with slabs 
of this bark as already described, and as shown in Fig. 17, 


Adirondack, Wick-Up, and Pioneer 17 

the bark being held in place on the roof by poles laid over 
it and on the side by stakes being driven in the ground 
outside of the bark to hold it in place as in Fig. 17. 

The Pioneer 

Fig. 18 shows the Pioneer, a tent form of shack, and 
Fig. 19 shows how the bark is placed like shingles over- 
lapping each other so as to shed the rain. The doorway 
of the tent shack is made by leaning poles against forked 
sticks, their butts forming a semicircle in front, or rather 
the arc of a circle, and by bracing them against the forked 
stick fore and aft they add stability to the structure. 

Bark Teepee 

Or you may, if you choose, lash three sticks together 
at the top ends, spread them in the form of a tripod, then 
lay other sticks against them, their butts forming a circle 
in the form of a teepee (Fig. 20). 

Commence at the bottom as you do in shingling a roof 
and place sections of birch bark around, others above them 
overlapping them, and hold them in place by resting poles 
against them. If your camp is to be occupied for a week 
or so, it may be convenient to build a wick-up shelter as 
a dining-room like the one shown in Fig. 21. This is 
made with six uprights, two to hold the ridge-pole and two 
to hold the eaves, and may be shingled over with browse 
or birch, elm, spruce, or other bark; shingle with the 
browse in the same manner as that described for the bark, 
beginning at the eaves and allowing each row of browse 
to overlap the butts of the one below it. 



In building a shelter use every and any thing handy for 
the purpose; ofttimes an uprooted tree will furnish a well- 
made adobe wall, where the spreading roots have torn off 
the surface soil as the tree fell and what was the under- 
side is now an exposed wall of clay, against which you may 
rest the poles for the roof of a lean-to. Or the side of the 
cliff (Fig. 23) may offer you the same opportunity. Maybe 
two or three trees will be found willing to act as uprights 
(Fig. 24). Where you use a wall of any kind, rock, roots, 
or bank, it will, of course, be necessary to have your door- 
way at one side of the shack as in Fig. 23. The upright 
poles may be on stony ground where their butts cannot 
well be planted in the earth, and there it will be necessary 
to brace them with slanting poles (Fig. 25). Each camp 
will offer problems of its own, problems which add much 
to the interest and pleasure of camp making. 

Beaver Mat 

The beaver-mat camp is a new one and, under favor- 
able conditions, a good one. Cut your poles the length 
required for the framework of the sides, lash them to- 
gether with the green rootlets of the tamarack or strips of 
bark of the papaw, elm, cedar, or the inside bark of the 


20 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

chestnut {A, Fig. 22); then make a bed of browse of any 
kind handy, but make it in the manner described for mak- 
ing balsam beds (Fig. 7). You will, of course, thatch so 
that when the side is erected it is shingled like a house, 
the upper rows overlapping the lower ones. Then lash a 
duplicate frame over the browse-padded frame and the 
side is complete (B, Fig. 22). Make the other side or 
sides and the roof (C, Fig. 22) in the same manner, after 
which it is a simple matter to erect your shack (Fig. 22, 
and E, Fig. 22). 

The great advantage of this sort of shelter is that it is 
much easier to do your thatching on the ground than on 
standing walls, and also, when done, it is so compact as 
to be practically water-proof. 

Fagot Shack 

The fagot shack is also a new style of camp and is in- 
tended for use in places where large timber cannot be cut, 
but where dwarf willows, bamboo cane, alders, or other 
small underbrush is more or less plentiful. From this 
gather a plentiful supply of twigs and with impro'/ised 
twine bind the twigs into bundles of equal size. Use 
these bundles as you would stones in building the wall and 
lay them so as to break joints, that is, so that the joints 
are never in a continuous line. Hold the wall in place by 
stakes as shown in Fig. 26. Use the browse, small twigs 
with the leaves adhering to them, in place of mortar or 
cement so as to level your bundles and prevent their rock- 
ing on uneven surfaces. The doorways and window open- 
ings offer no problem that a rank outsider cannot solve. 
Fig. 27 shows the window opening, also shows you how the 
window-sill can be made firm by laying rods over the top 
of the fagots. Rods are also used across the top of the 
doorw^ay upon which to place the bundles of fagots or 

Beaver-Mat Huts and Fagot Shacks 21 

twigs. Twigs is probably the best term to use here, as 
fagots might be thought to mean larger sticks, which may 
be stiff and obstinate and hard to handle. 


After the walls are erected, a beaver-mat roof may be 
placed upon them or a roof made on a frame such as shown 
in Fig. 28 and thatched with small sticks over which a 
thatch of straw, hay, rushes (Figs. 66 and 69), or browse 
may be used to shed the rain. 

One great advantage which recommends the beaver- 
mat and fagot camp to lovers of nature and students of 
forestry lies in the fact that it is unnecessary to cut down 
or destroy a single large or valuable young tree in order 
to procure the material necessary to make the camp. 
Both of these camps can be made in forest lands by using 
the lower branches of the trees, which, when properly cut 
close to the trunk (Fig. 121), do not injure the standing 
timber. The fagot hut may be made into a permanent 
camp by plastering the outside with soft mud or clay and 
treating the inside walls in the same manner, thus trans- 
forming it into an adobe shack. 


While the ingenuity of the white man may make im- 
provements upon the wick-ups, arbors, huts, and shelters 
of the native red man, we must not forget that these native 
shelters have been used with success by the Indians for 
centuries, also we must not forget that our principal ob- 
jection to many of them lies in the fact that they are ill 
ventilated and dirty, both of which defects may be rem- 
edied without materially departing from the lines laid ' 
down by the savage architects. The making of windows 
will supply ventilation to Indian huts, but the form of the 
hut we must bear in mind is made to suit the locality in 
which we find it. 

Apache Hogan 

The White Mountain Apache builds a tent-shaped shack 
(Figs. 29 and 32) which is practically the same as that 
already described and shown in Figs. 18 and 19, the differ- 
ence being that the Apache shack is not covered with 
birch bark, a material peculiar to the North, but the 
Apache uses a thatch of the rank grass to be found where 
his shacks are located. To-day, however, the White 
Mountain Apache has become so degenerate and so lost 
to the true sense of dignity as a savage that he stoops to 
use corn-stalks with which to thatch the long, sloping sides 
of his shed-like house* but by so doing he really shows 

24 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

good horse sense, for corn-stalks and corn leaves make 
good material for the purpose. 

San Carlos Shack 

The San Carlos Apache Indians build a dome-shaped 
hut by making a framework of small saplings bent in 
arches as the boys did in Kentucky when the writer was 
himself a lad, and as shown in Fig. 30. The ends of the 
pole are sunk into the ground in the form of a circle, while 
their tips are bent over and bound together thus forming 
a series of loops which overlap each other and give sta- 
bility and support to the principal loops which run from 
the ground to the top of the dome. The Indians thatch 
these huts wdth bear-grass arranged in overlapping rows 
and held in place with strings (see Fig. 69) made of yucca 
leaves (Fig. 31). 

Chippewa Shack 

Much farther north I have seen the Chippewa Indians 
build a framework in practically the same manner as the 
San Carlos Apache, but the Chippewas covered their 
frame with layers of birch bark held in place by ropes 
stretched over it as shown in Fig. 32. The door to their 
huts consisted of a blanket portiere. 

In the same locality to-day it w^ould be difficult if not 
impossible to procure such large strips of birch bark; but 
the dome-shaped frame is a good one to be used in many 
localities and, like all other frames, it can be covered with 
the material at hand. It may be shingled with smaller 
pieces of bark, covered with brush and thatched with 
browse or with hay, straw, palmetto leaves, palm leaves, 
or rushes, or it may be plastered over with mud and made 
an adobe hut. 

Indian Shacks and Shelters 25 

Pima Lodge 

The Pima Indians make a flat-roofed lodge with slant- 
ing walls (Fig. 33) which may be adapted for our use in 
almost any section of the country. It can be made warm 
and tight for the far North and cool and airy for the arid 
regions of the Southwest. The framework, as you may 
see by referring to the diagram, is similar to the wick-ups 
we men made when we were boys, and which are de- 
scribed in the *' American Boy's Handy Book," consisting 
of four upright posts supporting in their crotches two 
crosspieces over which a flat roof is made by placing 
poles across. But the sides of this shack are not upright 
but made by resting leaning poles against the eaves. 

White Man's Walls 

The principal difference between a white man's archi- 
tecture and the Indian's lies in the fact that the white 
man, with brick, stone, or frame house in his mind, is 
possessed of a desire to build perpendicular walls — walls 
which are hard to thatch and difficult to cover with turf, 
especially in the far North, where there is no true sod 
such as we understand in the middle country, where our 
grass grows thickly with interlacing roots. Boys will do 
well to remember this and imitate the Indian in making 
slanting walls for their shacks, shanties, and shelters in 
the woods. If they have boards or stone or brick or logs 
with which to build they may, with propriety, use a per- 
pendicular wall. The Pima Indians, according to Pliny 
Earle Goddard, associate curator of anthropology of the 
American Museum of Natural History, thatch their 
houses with arrow brush and not infrequently bank the 
sides of the shack with dirt. 

26 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Adobe Roof 

If you want to put a dirt roof on a shack of this de- 
scription, cover the poles with small boughs or browse, 
green or dry leaves, straw, hay, grass, or rushes and put the 
sod over the top of this. If in place of making the roof 
flat, as shown in Fig. 33, you slant it so as to shed the rain, 
this sort of shack will do for almost any chmate, but 
with a flat roof it is only fitted for the arid country or 
for a shelter from the sun when it is not expected to be 
used during the rain. 


The teepee-shaped hut used by the Navajo Indians ivill 
shed the rain. To build this shack interlock three forked 
sticks as shown in the diagram, then lay other poles up 
against the forks of these sticks so that the butts of the 
poles will form a circle on the ground (Fig. 34), Thatch 
this with any material handy, after which you may cover 
it with dirt as the Navajos do, in which case you had 
better build a hallway for entrance, as shown in Fig. 35. 
This same teepee form is used by the California Indians 
and thatched with wild hay (Fig. 343/^). 



A DESCRIPTION of the Pontiac was first published in my 
"Field and Forest Handy Book," a book which contains 
several shelters similar to the ones here given, most of 
which were originally made for Caspar Whitney while 
he was editor of Outing. 

The Pontiac 

The Pontiac, as here given, is my own design and in- 
vention (Fig. 36). It is supposed to be shingled with 
birch bark, but, as is the case with all these camps, other 
bark may be substituted for the birch, and, if no bark is 
within reach and you are near enough to civilization, tar 
paper makes an excellent substitute. Fig. 37 shows the 
framework of a Pontiac with a ridge-pole, but the ridge- 
pole is not necessary and the shack may be built without 
it, as shown in Figs. 36 and 39, where the rafter poles rest 
upon the two side-plates over which they project to form 
the apex of the roof. In Fig. 39, although the side-plates 
are drawn, the rafter or roof poles are not because the dia- 
gram is supposed to be a sort of X-ray affair to show the 
internal construction. The opening for smoke need not 
be more than half as large as it is in Fig. 39 and it may 
be covered up in inclement weather with a piece of bark 
so as to keep out the rain. 


28 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Cutting Bark 

Fig. 38 shows a tree felled in order to procure bark. 
You will note that the bark is cut round at the bottom 
and at the top and a slit is made connecting the two cuts as 
already described so that the bark may be peeled off by 
running a blunt instrument or a stick, whittled to the 
shape of a paper-cutter or dull chisel, under the edge of 
the bark and carefully peeling it back. If it is necessary 
to "tote" the bark any distance over the trail, Fig. 38 
shows how to roll it up and how to bind the roll with 
cord or rope so that it may be slung on the back as the 
man is ''toting" it in Fig. 36. 

Building the Pontiac 

To build a Pontiac, first erect the uprights E and E, 
Fig. 37, then the other two similar uprights at the rear 
and lay the side-plates G in the forks of the uprights; 
next erect the upright H and one in the rear to correspond, 
and across this lay the ridge-pole. Next take a couple of 
logs and put them at the foot of the E poles, or, if you 
want more room, further back toward where the roof poles 
F will come. Place one of these logs on top of the other 
as shown in Figs. 36 and 39. Keep them in place by 
driving sticks on each side of them. Put two more logs 
upon the other side of the Pontiac and then lay your roof 
poles or rafters up against the side-plates and over the 
logs as shown in diagrams 36, 37, and 39. Fig. 36 shows 
the roof partially shingled and the sides partially covered, 
so that you may better understand how it is done. 

Shingling with Bark 

Commence at the bottom and lay the first row with 
the edges overlapping for walls; for the roof you may lay 

30 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

one row of shingles from the bottom up to the ridge and 
hold them in place by resting a pole on them; then lay next row of shingles alongside by slipping the edges 
under the first. When you have the two sides covered, 
put bark over the ridge as shown in Fig. 36. This will 
make a beautiful and comfortable little camp. 

To Keep Out Cold 

Built as here described, the cold wind might come 
through in the winter-time, but if you can gather a lot of 
Sphagnum moss from the nearest swamp and cover your 
roof with it and then shingle that over with another layer 
of birch bark, the cold wind will not come through your 
roof. If you treat your side walls in the same manner and 
heap dirt up around the edges of them, you will have a 
comfortable winter camp. 

In the winter-time you will find it very difficult to peel 
the birch bark or any other kind of bark, but when the 
sap is flowing it is not so difficult to secure bark slabs 
from many varieties of trees. 


When the French Communists were raising Cain in 
Europe they doubtless thought their idea was practically 
new, but thousands of years before they bore the red ban- 
ner through the streets of Paris the American Indians 
were living quiet and peaceful communal lives on this 
continent; when I use the words quiet and peaceful, I, of 
course, mean as regards their own particular commune 
and not taking into account their attitude toward their 
neighbors. The Pueblo Indians built themselves adobe 
communal houses, the Nez Perces built themselves houses 
of sticks and dry grass one hundred and fifty feet 
long sometimes, containing forty-eight families, while the 
Nechecolles had houses two hundred and twenty-six feet 
in length! But this is not a book of history; all we want 
to know is how to build shacks for our own use; so we will 
borrow one from the communal home of the Iroquois. It 
is not necessary for us to make this one hundred feet long, 
as the Iroquois Indians did. We can make a diminutive 
one as a playhouse for our children, a moderate-sized one 
as a camp for our Boy Scouts, or a good- sized one for a 
party of full-grown campers. 

But first we must gather a number of long, ilexible sap- 
lings and plant them in two rows with their butt ends in 
the ground, as shown in Fig. 40, after which we may bend 
their upper ends so that they will overlap each other and 
form equal-sized arches, when they are lashed together, 


32 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

with twine if we have it, or with wire if it is handy; but 
if we are real woodsmen, we will bind them with rope 
made of fibres of bark or the flexible roots which we find 
in the forests. Then we bmd horizontal poles or rods to 
the arches, placing the poles about a foot or two apart ac- 
cording to the material with which we are to shingle it. 
We make a simple doorway with upright posts at one end 
and bind the horizontal posts on as we did at the sides. 
Next we shingle it w^ith bark or with strips of tar paper 
and hold the shingles in place by binding poles upon the 
outside, as shown in Fig. 41. A hole or holes are left in the 
roof over the fireplaces for openings for the smoke to 
escape. In lieu of a chimney a w^ind-shield of bark is 
fastened at its lower edge by pieces of twine to the roof 
so as to shield the opening; this wind-shield should be 
movable so that it may be shifted according to the wind. 
The Iroquois is an easily constructed shelter, useful to 
man, and one which will delight the heart of the Boy 
Scouts or any other set of boys. 

The Pawnee Hogan 

The Pawnee hogan is usually covered with sod or dirt, 
but it may be covered with bark, with canvas, or thatched 
with straw or with browse, as the camper may choose. 
Fig. 42 shows the framework in the skeleton form. The 
rafter poles are placed wigwam fashion and should be very 
close together m the finished structure; so also should be 
the short sticks forming the side walls and the walls to the 
hallway or entrance. To build this hogan, first erect a 
circle of short forked sticks, setting their ends firmly in 
the ground. Inside of this erect four longer forked sticks, 
then place across these four horizontal side-plates, or 
maybe they might be more properly called ''purlins," in 
which case the sticks laid on the forks of the circle of small 

} M 

34 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

uprights will properly correspond to the side-plates of a 
white man's dwelling. After the circle and square (Fig. 42) 
have been erected, make your doorway with two short- 
forked sticks and your hallway by sticks running from the 
door to side-plates. In thatching your roof or in covering 
it with any sort of material, leave an opening at the top 
(Fig. 43) to act as a chimney for your centre camp-fire. If 
the roof is to be covered with sod or adobe, cover it first 
with browse, hay, straw, or rushes, making a thick mattress 
over the entire structure. On top of this plaster your mud 
or sod (Fig. 43). If you intend to use this hogan as a 
more or less permanent camp you can put windows in the 
sides to admit light and air and use a hollow log or a bar- 
rel for a chimney as shown in Fig. 44. 

The Kolshian 

The camps thus far described are supposed to be ''tom- 
ahawk camps," that is, camps which may be built without 
the use of a lumberman's axe. The kolshian (Fig. 45) of 
Alaska, when built by the natives, is a large communal 
council-house, but I have placed it here among the '' tom- 
ahawk camps" on the supposition that some one might 
want to build one in miniature as a novelty on their place 
or as a council-room for their young scouts. The Alaskans 
hew all the timber out by hand, but, of course, the reader 
may use sawed or milled lumber. The proper entrance 
to a kolshian or rancheree, as Elliot calls it, is through a 
doorway made in the huge totem-pole at the front of the 
building. The roof is covered with splits or shakes held in 
place by poles laid across them, the sides are made of 
hewn planks set upright, and the front has two heavy 
planks at the eaves which run down through holes in two 
upright planks at the corners (Fig. 45). These with the 
sill plank bind the upright wall planks in place. 

Indian Communal Houses 35 

The kolshian is undoubtedly a very ancient form of 
building and may be related to the houses built by the 
ancient cavemen of Europe. The first human house- 
builders are said to belong to the Cro-Magnon race who 
lived in caves in the winter-time, and on the walls of one 
of the caverns (Dordogne cavern) some Cro-Magnon bud- 
ding architect made a rough sketch of one of their houses 
(middle sketch, Fig. 45). When you compare the house 
with the kolshian the resemblance is very striking, and 
more so when we remember that the kolshian floor is 
underground, indicating that it is related to or suggested 
by a natural cavern. 



To further illustrate the use of bark and tar paper, I 
have made the sketches shown by Figs. 46, 47, and 48. 
Fig. 47 is a log shack with an arched roof drawn from a 
photograph in my collection. To keep the interior warm 
not only the roof but the sides of the house as well have 
been shingled with bark, leaving only the ends of the logs 
protruding to tell of what material the house is really 
constructed. Fig. 47 shows a fisherman's hut made with 
a few sticks and bark. Fig. 48 shows a tar paper camp, 
that is, a camp where everything is covered with tar paper 
in place of bark. The house is made with a skeleton of 
poles on which the tar paper is tacked, the kitchen is an 
open shed with tar paper roof, and even the table is made 
by covering the cross sticks shown in the diagram with 
sheets of tar paper in place of the birch bark usually used 
for that purpose. 

Personally I do not like tar paper; it seems to rob the 
camp of a true flavor of the woods; it knocks the sentiment 
out of it, and, except to sailors, the odor of the tar is not 
nearly as delightful as that of the fragrant balsam boughs. 
Nevertheless, tar paper is now used in all the lumber camps 
and is spreading farther and farther into the woods as the 
birch bark becomes scarce and the ''tote-roads" are im- 

When one can enter the woods with an automxobile, you 
must expect to find tar paper camps, because the paper is 


38 Shelters^ Shacks, and Shanties 

easily transported, easily handled, and easily applied for 
the purpose of the camper. 

Practically any form of tent may be reproduced by 
tacking tar paper to sticks arranged in the proper manner, 
but if you make a wigwam of tar paper, do paint it red, 
green, or yellow, or whitewash it; do anything which will 
take off the civilized, funereal look of the affair. 



Before we proceed any further it may be best to give 
the plan of a workshop, a camp, an outhouse, or a shed 
to be made of sawed lumber, the framework of which is 
made of what is known as two-by-fours, that is, pieces 
of lumber two inches thick by four inches wide. The plans 
used here are from my book "The Jack of All Trades," 
but the dimensions may be altered to suit your conve- 
nience. The sills, which are four inches by four inches, are 
also supposed to be made by nailing two two-by-fours to- 
gether. First stake out your foundation and see that the 
corners are square, that is, at right angles, and test this 
with a tape or ruler by measuring six feet one way and 
eight feet the other from a corner along the proposed sides 
of the house marking these points. If a ten-foot rod will 
reach exactly across from point to point, the corner is 
square and you may dig your post-holes. 

The Foundation 

You may use a foundation of stones or a series of stone 
piles, but if you use stones and expect your house to re- 
main plumb where the winters are severe you must dig 
holes for themx at least three feet deep in order to go below 
the frost-line. Fill these holes with broken stone, on top 
of which you can make your pile of stones to act as sup- 
port for the sills; but the simplest method is to use posts 
of locust, cedar, or chestnut; or, if this is too much trouble, 


40 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

pack the dirt tightly, drain it well by making it slope away 
from the house in every direction, and lay your foundation 
sills on the level earth. In that case you had better use 
chestnut wood for the sills; spruce will rot very quickly in 
contact with the damp earth and pine vnLl not last long 
under the same circumstances. 

All through certain sections of this country there are 
hundreds of humble dwellings built upon "mudsills," in 
other words, with no foundation or floor but the bare 

We will suppose that you have secured some posts about 
two feet six inches long with good, flat ends. The^better 
material you can obtain the trimmer and better will be 
the appearance of your house, but a house which will pro- 
tect you and your tools may be made of the roughest 

The plans here drawn will answer for the rough or fine 
material, but we suppose that medium material is to be 
used. It mil be taken for granted that the reader is 
able to procure enough two-by-four-inch timber to sup- 
ply studs, ribs, purlins, rafters, beams, and posts for the 
frame shown in Fig. 49. Two pieces of four-by-four-inch 
timber each fifteen feet long should be made for sills by 
nailing two-by-fours together. Add to this some tongue- 
and-grooved boarding or even rough boards for sides and 
roof, some enthusiasm, and good American pluck and the 
shop is almost as good as built. 

First lay the foundation, eight by fifteen feet, and then 
you may proceed to dig your post-holes. The outside of 
the posts should be flush or even with the outside edges 
of the sills and end beams of the house as shown in the 
diagram. If there are four posts on each of the long sides 
they should be equal distances apart. 

Dig the holes three feet deep, allowing six inches of the 
posts to protrude above ground. If you drive two stakes 

42 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

a short distance beyond the foundation in line with your 
foundation Unes and run a string from the top of one stake 
to the top of the other you can, without much trouble, get 
it upon a perfect level by testing it and adjusting until 
the string represents the level for your sill. When this is 
done, set your posts to correspond to the level of the string, 
then place your sill on top of the posts and test that with 
your level. If found to be correct, fill in the dirt around 
the posts and pack it firmly, then spike your sill to the 
posts and go through the same operation with opposite 
sets of posts and sill. 

The first difficult work is now done and, with the excep- 
tion of the roof, the rest only needs ordinary care. 

It is supposed that you have already sawed off and pre- 
pared about nine two-by-four-inch beams each of which is 
exactly eight feet long. Set these on edge from sill to sill, 
equal distances apart, the edges of the end beams being 
exactly even with the ends of the sills as in Fig. 49. 
See that the beams all cross the sills at right angles and 
toe-nail them in place. You may now neatly floor the 
foundation with one-inch boards; these boards must be 
laid lengthwise with the building and crosswise with the 
beams. When this is finished you will have a beautiful 
platform on which to work, where you will be in no danger 
of losing your tools, and you may use the floor as a table 
on which to measure and plan the sides and roof. 

Ridge Plank and Rafters 

It is a good idea to make your ridge plank and rafters 
while the floor is clear of rubbish. Lay out and mark on 
the floor, with a carpenter's soft pencil, a straight line four 
feet long (^4, B, Fig. 49). At right angles to this draw 
another line three feet six inches long (A, D, Fig. 49). 
Connect the^points {B, D, Fig. 49) with a straight line, 

A Sawed-Luviber Shanty 43 

then complete the figure A, B, C, D (Fig. 49). Allow 
two inches at the top for the ridge plank at B and two by 
four for the end of the side-plate at D. You then have a 
pattern for each rafter with a "plumb edge" at B and a 
''bird's mouth" at D, The plumb edge must be par- 
allel with B, C and the two jaws of the "bird's mouth" 
parallel with D, C and A, D, respectively. Make six 
rafters of two-by-fours and one ridge plank. 

The purlins and collar can be made and fitted after the 
roof is raised. Set your roof timber carefully to one side 
and clear the floor for the studs, ribs, and plates. First 
prepare the end posts and make them of two-by-fours. 
Each post is of two pieces. There will be four outside 
pieces each five feet eight inches in length, which rest on 
the end beams, and four inside pieces each six feet in 
length; this allows two inches at the top for the ends of 
the end plates to rest upon. 

Examine the corner posts and you will see that the out- 
side two-by-four rests upon the top side of the end beam 
and the side-plate rests directly upon said two-by-four. 
You will also observe that the inside two-by-four rests 
directly upon the sill, which would make the former four 
inches longer than the outside piece if it is extended to the 
side-plate; but you will also notice that there is a notch 
in the end plate for the outside corner piece to fit in and 
that the end of the end plate fits on top the inside piece of 
the comer posts, taking off two inches, which makes the 
inside piece just six feet long. This is a very simple ar- 
rangement, as may be seen by examining the diagram. 
Besides the corner posts, each of which we have seen is 
made of two pieces of two-by-fours, there are four studs for 
the front side, each six feet two inches long. The short 
studs shown in the diagram on the rear side are unneces- 
sary and are only shown so that they may be put in as 
convenient attachments for shelves and to^jracks. 

44 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

The first stud on the front is placed two feet from the 
corner post and the second one about six feet six inches 
from the first, to allow a space for a six-foot window; the 
next two studs form the door-jambs and must be far 
enough from the comer to allow the door to open and 
swing out of the way. If you make your door two and 
one half feet wide — a good size — you may set your last 
stud two feet from the corner post and leave a space of 
two feet six inches for the doorway. Now mark off on 
the floor the places where the studs will come, and cut out 
the flooring at these points to allow the ends of the studs 
to enter and rest on the sill. Next make four ribs — one 
long one to go beneath the window, one short one to fit 
between the corner post and the door stud not shown in 
diagram, another to fit between the door stud and window 
stud, and another to fit between the window stud and the 
first comer post (the nearest corner in the diagram). 
Next make your side-plate exactly fifteen feet long. Fit 
the frame together on the floor and nail the pieces together, 
toe-nailing the ribs in place. Get some help and raise 
the whole side frame and slip the ends of the studs into 
their respective slots. Make the end posts plumb and 
hold them in place temporarily by a board, one end of 
which is nailed to the top end of the post and the other 
to the end beam. Such a diagonal board at each end will 
holcf the side in place until the opposite side is raised and 
similarly supported. 

It is now a simple thing to slip the end plates in place 
under the side-plates until their outside edges are even 
with the outside of the corner posts. A long wire nail 
driven through the top-plates and end plates down into 
the posts at each corner will hold them securely. Toe- 
nail a rib between the two nearest end posts and make 
two window studs and three ribs for the opposite end. 
The framing now only needs the roof timbers to complete 

A Sawed-Lumber Shanty 45 

the skeleton of your shop. Across from side-plate to side- 
plate lay some loose boards for a platform, and standing 
on these boards let your assistant lift one end of the ridge 
plank while with one nail to each rafter you fasten the 
two end rafters onto the ridge plank, fit the jaws of the 
"bird's mouth" over the ends of the side-plates, and hold 
them temporarily in place with a "stay lath" — that is, a 
piece of board temporarily nailed to rafter and end plate. 
The other end of the ridge is now resting on the platform 
at the other end of the house and this may be lifted up, 
for the single nails will allow movement. 

The rafters are nailed in place with one nail each and a 
stay lath fastened on to hold them in place. Test the ends 
with your plumb-level and when they are found to be cor- 
rect nail all the rafters securely in place and stiffen the 
centre pair with a piece called a "collar." Add four pur- 
lins set at right angles to the rafters and take off your hat 
and give three cheers and do not forget to nail a- green 
bough to your roof tree in accordance with the ancient and 
time-honored custom. 

The sides of the house may be covered with tent-cloth, 
oilcloth, tin, tar paper, or the cheapest sort of lumber, and 
the house may be roofed with the same material; but if 
you can secure good lumber, use thirteen by seven eighths 
by nine and one quarter inch, tongue-and-grooved, one 
side planed so that it may be painted; you can make two 
sideboards out of each piece six feet six inches in length. 
Nail the sides on, running the boards vertically, leaving 
openings for windows and doors at the proper places. 

If you have made a triangular edge to your ridge 
board, it will add to the finish and the roof may be 
neatly and tightly laid with the upper edge of one side 
protruding a couple of inches over the opposite side and 
thus protecting the joint from rain. Additional security 
is gained by nailing what are called picket strips (seven 

46 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

eighths by one and three quarter inches) over each place 
where the planks join, or the roof may be covered with 
sheathing boards and shingles. It is not necessary here 
to give the many details such as the manufacture of the 
door and the arrangements of the windows, as these small 
problems can be easily solved by examining doors and 
windows of similar structures. 


The difference between this sod house and the ones 
used in the arid regions consists in the fact that the sod 
will be growing on the sod house, which is intended for 
and is an ornamental building for the lawn. Possibly one 
might say that the sod house is an effete product of civi- 
lization where utility is sacrificed to display; but it is 
pretty, and beauty is always worth while; besides which 
the same plans may be used in building 

A Real Adobe 

and practically are used in some of the desert ranches along 
the Colorado River. The principal difference in construc- 
tion between the one shown in Figs. 50, 53, and 57 and 
the one in Fig. 55 is that in the sod house the sod is held 
in place by chicken-coop wire, while in the ranch-house 
(Fig. 55) the dirt or adobe is held in place by a number 
of sticks. 

Fig. 50 shows how the double walls are made with a 
space of at least a foot between them; these walls are 
covered with wire netting or chicken-coop wire, as shown in 
Fig. 53, and the space between the walls filled in with mud 
or dirt of any kind. The framework may be made of 
milled lumber, as in Fig. 50, or it may be made of saplings 
cut on the river bank and squared at their ends, as shown 
by detailed drawings between Figs. 50 and 52. The roof 
may be made flat, like Figs. 54 and 56, and covered with 


A Sod House for the Lawn 49 

poles, as in Fig. 54, in which case the sod will have to be 
held in place by pegging other poles along the eaves as 
shown in the left-hand corner of Fig. 54. This will keep 
the sod from sliding off the roof. Or you may build a roof 
after the manner illustrated by Fig. 49 and Fig. 51, that 
is, if you want to make a neat, workmanlike house; but 
any of the ways show^n by Fig. 52 will answer for the frame- 
work of the roof. The steep roof, however, must neces- 
sarily be either shingled or thatched or the sod held in 
place by a covering of wire netting. If you are building 
this for your lawn, set green, growing sod up edgewise 
against the wire netting, after the latter has been tacked 
to your frame, so arranging the sod that the green grass 
will face the outside. If you wish to plaster the inside 
of your house with cement or concrete, fill in behind with 
mud, plaster the mud against the sod and put gravel 
and stones against the mud so that it will be next to the 
wire netting on the inside of the house over which you 
plaster the concrete. If you make the roof shown in 
Fig. 54, cover it first with hay and then dirt and sod and 
hold the sod down wdth wire netting neatly tacked over 
it, or cover it with gravel held in place by wire netting and 
spread concrete over the top as one does on a cellar floor. 
If the walls are kept sprinkled by the help of the garden 
hose, the grass will keep as green as that on your lawn, and 
if you have a dirt roof you may allow purple asters and 
goldenrod to grow upon it (Fig. 62) or plant it with gar- 
den flowers. 


If you are going to make a thatched roof, soak your 
thatch in w^ater and straighten the bent s trawls; build the 
roof steep like the one shown in Fig. 57 and make a wooden 
needle a foot long and pointed at both ends as shown in 

50 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Fig. 59; tie your thatching twine to the middle of the 
needle, then take your rye or wheat straw, hay, or bul- 
rushes, gather it into bundles four inches thick and one 
foot wide, like those shown in Fig. 60, and lay them along 
next to the eaves of your house as in Fig. 58. Sew them in 
place by running the needle up through the wire netting 
to the man on the outside who in turn pushes it back to 
the man on the inside. Make a knot at each wisp of the 
thatch until one layer is finished, let the lower ends over- 
hang the eaves, then proceed as illustrated by Fig. 66 and 
described imder the heading of the bog ken. 

If in place of a simple ornament you want to make a 
real house of it and a pretty one at that, fill up the space 
between the walls with mud and plaster it on the outside 
with cement or concrete and you will have a cheap con- 
crete house. The wire netting will hold the plaster or the 
concrete and consequently it is not necessary to make the 
covering of cement as thick as in ordinary buildings, for 
after the mud is dried upon the inside it will, with its crust 
of cement or plaster, be practically as good as a solid con- 
crete wall. 





For many reasons it is sometimes necessary or advisable 
to have one's camp on stilts, so to speak. Especially is 
this true in the more' tropical countries where noxious ser- 
pents and insects abound. A simple form of stilted shack 
is shown by Fig. 63. To build this shack we must first 
erect an elevated platform (Fig. 64). This is made by set- 
ting four forked sticks of equal height in the ground and 
any height from the ground to suit the ideas of the camp 
builder. If, for some reason, the uprights are 'Svabbly" 
the frame may be stiffened by lashing diagonal cross 
sticks to the frame. After you have erected the four up- 
rights, lay two poles through the crotches, as in Fig. 64, 
and make a platform by placing other poles across these, 
after which a shelter may be made in the form of an open 
Adirondack camp or any of the forms previously described. 
Fig. 65 shows the framework for the open camp of Adi- 
rondack style with the uprights lashed to the side bars; if 
you have nails, of course, you can nail these together, but 
these plans are made on the assumption that you have no 
nails for that purpose, which will probably be true if you 
have been long in the woods. 




Ken is a name now almost obsolete but the bog ken is a 
house built on stilts where the ground is marshy, damp, 
and unfit to sleep upon. As you will see by the diagram 
(Fig. 66), the house is built upon a platform similar to the 
one last described; in this instance, however, the shelter 
itself is formed by a series of arches similar to the Iroquois 
(Fig. 41). The uprights on the two sides have their ends 
bent over and lashed together, forming arches for the roof. 
Over the arches are lashed horizontal poles the same as 
those described in the construction of the Iroquois lodge. 
Fig. 67 shows one way to prevent "varmints" of any kind 
from scaling the supporting poles and creeping into your 

The protection consists of a tin pan with a hole in the 
bottom slid over the supporting poles. Fig. 66 shows how 
to lash the thatching on to the poles and Fig. 68 shows 
how to spring the sticks in place for a railing around your 
front porch or balcony. 

The floor to this bog ken is a little more elaborate than 
that of the last described camp because the poles have all 
been halved before laying them for the floor. These are 
supposed to be afterward covered with browse, hay, or 
rushes and the roof shingled with bark or thatched. 


Soak your straw or hay well in water and smooth it 
out flat and regular. The steeper the roofs the longer 


56 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

the thatch will last. In this bog ken our roof happens 
to be a rounded one, an arched roof; but it is sheltering a 
temporary house and the thatch will last as long as the 
shack. While the real pioneer uses whatever material he 
finds at hand, it does no harm for him to know that to 
make a really good thatch one should use only straw 
which is fully ripe and has been thrashed clean with an 
old-fashioned flail. The straw must be clear of all seed 
or grain and kept straight, not mussed up, crumpled, and 
broken. If any grain is left in the straw it will attract 
field-mice, birds, domestic mice and rats, domestic tur- 
keys and chickens, and these creatures in burrowing and 
scratching for food will play havoc with the roof. 

It is not necessary to have straight and even rafters, 
because the humps, bumps, and hollows caused by crooked 
sticks are concealed by the mattress of straw. Take a 
bundle of thatch in your hands, squeeze it together, and 
place it so that the butt ends project about three inches 
beyond the floor {A, Fig. 66); tie the thatch closely to the 
lower rafter and the one next above it, using for the pur- 
pose twine, marlin, raffia, or well-t^\isted white hickory 
bark. This first row should be thus tied near both ends 
to prevent the wind from getting under it and lifting it 
up. Next put on another row of wisps of thatch over 
the first and the butt ends come even with the first, but tie 
this one to the third row of rafters not shown in diagram. 
The butts of the third row of thatch {B, Fig. 66) should be 
about nine inches up on the front rows; put this on as 
before and proceed the same way with C, D, E, and F, 
Fig. 66, until the roof is completed. The thatch should 
be ten or twelve inches thick for a permanent hut but 
need not be so for a temporary shed. 

As there is no comb to this roof the top must be pro- 
tected where the thatches from each side join, and to do 
this fasten a thatch over the top and bind it on both sides 

58 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

but not in the middle, so that it covers the meeting of the 
thatches on both sides of the shack; this top piece should 
be stitched or bound on with wire if you have it, or fast- 
ened with willow ^\ithe or even wisps of straw if you are 
an expert. A house, twenty by thirty feet, made of mate- 
rial found on the place and thatched with straw costs the 
builder only fifty cents for nails and four days' work for 
two persons. A good thatched roof will last as long as a 
modern shingle roof, for in olden days when shingles were 
good and split out of blocks, not sawed, and were well 
seasoned before using, they were not expected to last much 
over fifteen years; a well-made thatched roof will last 
fifteen or twenty years. 

But a real bog ken is one that is built over boggy or 
marshy places too soft to support an ordinary structure. 
To overcome this difficulty required considerable study 
and experiment, but at length the author hit upon a sim- 
ple plan which has proved effective. If you wish to build 
a duck hunter's camp on the soft meadows, or for any 
other reason you desire a camp on treacherous, boggy 
ground, you may build one by fi.rst making a thick mat- 
tress of twigs and sticks as shown by Fig. 70. This mat- 
tress acts on the principle of a snow-shoe and prevents 
your house from sinking by distributing the weight equally 
over a wide surface. The mattress should be carefully 
made of sticks haxdng their branches trimmed off suflS- 
cicntly to allow them to lie in regular courses as in the dia- 
gram. The first course should be laid one way and the 
next course at right angles to the first, and so on, until 
the mattress is sufficiently thick for the purpose. 

Standing on the mattress, it will be an easy matter with 
your hands to force the sharpened ends of your upright 
posts A, B, C, and D down into the yielding mud, but be 
careful not to push them too far because in some of these 
marshes the mud is practically bottomless. It is only 


60 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

necessary for the supports to sink in the mud far enough 
to make them stand upright. 

The next step is to lay, at right angles to the top layer 
of brush, a series of rods or poles between your uprights 
as shown in Fig. 70; then take two more poles, place them 
at right angles to the last ones, and press them down until 
they fit snugly on top of the other poles, and there nail 
them fast to the uprights as shown in Fig. 70, after which 
to further bind them you may nail a diagonal from A to 
D and B to C, but this may not be necessary. 

When you have proceeded thus far you may erect a 
framework like that shown in Fig. 71, and build a plat- 
form by flooring the crosspieces or horizontal bars with 
halves of small logs, Fig. 71. 

It is now a simple matter to erect a shack which may be 
roofed with bark as in Fig. 72 or thatched as in Fig. 74. 
Fig. 72 shows the unfinished shack in order that its con- 
struction may be easily seen ; this one is being roofed with 
birch bark. A fireplace may be made by enclosing a bed 
of mud (Fig. 73) between or inside of the square formed 
by four logs. On this clay or mud you can build your 
camp-fire or cooking fire or mosquito smudge with little 
or no danger of setting fire to your house. 

The mosquito smudge will not be found necessary if 
there is any breeze blowing at all, because these insects 
cling to the salt hay or bog-grass and do not rise above it 
except in close, muggy weather where no breeze disturbs 
them. I have slept a few feet over bog meadows without 
being disturbed by mosquitoes when every blade of grass 
on the meadows was black with these insects, but there 
was a breeze blowing which kept the mosquitoes at home. 



Now that we know how to camp on solid ground and on 
the quaking bog we cannot finish up the subject of stilt 
camps without including one over-water camp. If the 
water has a muddy bottom it is a simple matter to force 
your supporting posts into the mud; this may be done by 
driving them in with a wooden mallet made of a section 
of log or it may be done by fastening poles on each side 
of the post and having a crowd of men jump up and down 
on the poles until the posts are forced into the bottom. 

If you are building a pretentious structure the piles may 
be driven with the ordinary pile-driver. But if your 
camp on the water is over a hard bottom of rock or sand 
through which you cannot force your supports you may 
take a lot of old barrels (Fig. 75), knock the tops and bot- 
toms out of them, nail some cross planks on the ends of 
your spiles, slide the barrels over the spiles, then set them 
in place in the water and hold them there by filling the 
barrels with rocks, stones, or coarse gravel. Fig. 77 shows 
a foundation made in this manner; this method is also 
useful in building piers (Fig. 78). But if you are in the 
woods, out of reach of barrels or other civilized lumber, 
you can make yourself cribs by driving a square or a circle 
of sticks in the ground a short distance and then twining 
roots or pliable branches inside and outside the stakes, 
basket fashion, as shown in Fig. 76. When the crib is 
complete it may be carefully removed from the ground 


64 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

and used as the barrels were used by filling them with 
stones to support the uprights. Fig. 79 shows an ordi- 
nary portable house such as are advertised in all the 
sportsmen's papers, which has been erected upon a plat- 
form over the water. 

My experience with this sort of w^ork leads me to advise 
the use of piles upon which to build in place of piers of 
stones. Where I have used such piers upon small inland 
lakes the tremendous push of the freezing ice has upset 
them, whereas the ice seems to slide around the piles 
without pushing them over. The real danger with piles 
lies in the fact that if the water rises after the ice has 
frozen around the uprights the water will lift the ice up 
and the ice wdll sometimes pull the piles out of the bot- 
tom like a dentist pulls teeth. Nevertheless, piles are 
much better for a foundation for a camp or pier than any 
crib of rocks, and that is the reason I have shown the 
cribs in Figs. 75 and 77, made so as to rest upon the 
bottom supposedly below the level of the winter ice. 



If my present reader happens to be a Boy Scout or a 
scout-master who wants the scouts to build a tower for 
exhibition purposes, he can do so by following the direc- 
tions here given, but if there is real necessity for haste in 
the erection of this tower, of course we cannot build one 
as tall as we might where we have more time. With a 
small tower all the joints may be quickly lashed together 
with strong, hea\y twine, rope, or even wire; and in the 
wilderness it will probably be necessary to bind the joints 
with pliable roots, or cordage made of bark or withes; but 
as this is not a book on woodcraft we will suppose that 
the reader has secured the proper material for fastening 
the joints of the frame of this signal-tower and he must 
now shoulder his axe and go to the woods in order to secure 
the necessary timber. First let him cut eight straight 
poles — that is, as straight as he can find them. These poles 
should be about four and one half inches in diameter at 
their base and sixteen and one half feet long. After all 
the branches are trimmed off the poles, cut four more 
sticks each nine feet long and two and a half or three 
inches in diameter at the base; when these are trimmed 
into shape one will need twenty six or seven more stout 
sticks each four and one half feet long for braces and for 
flooring for the platform. 


66 Shelters, Snacks, and Shanties 

Kite Frame 

It being supposed that your timber is now all in readi- 
ness at the spot where you are to erect the tower, begin 
by laying out on the ground what we call the ''kite 
frame." First take three of the four-and-one-half-foot 
sticks, A, B,C (Fig. 82), and two of the nine-foot sticks 
D and E (Fig. 82), and, placing them on a level stretch 
of ground, arrange them in the form of a parallelogram. 
Put A for the top rail at the top of the parallelogram and 
C for the bottom of the parallelogram and let them rest 
upon the sides D and E, but put B under the sides D and 
E. In order to bind these together securely, the ends of 
all the sticks must be allowed to project a few inches. 
B should be far enough below A to give the proper height 
for a railing around the platform. The platform itself 
rests upon B, A forms the top railing to the fence 
around it. 

Now take two of your sixteen-and-one-half-foot poles 
and place them diagonally from corner to corner of the 
parallelogram with the small ends of the poles lying over 
the ends of A and the butt ends of the poles extending 
beyond C, as in Fig. 82. Lash these poles securely in 

Where the poles cross each other in the X, or centre, it 
is best to flatten them some by scoring and hewing with a 
hatchet, but care must be taken not to weaken them by 
scoring too deep. Next take your lash rope, double it, 
run the loop down under the cross sticks, bring it up on 
the other side, as in Fig. 83, then pull the two loose ends 
through the loop. When they are drawn taut (Fig. 84), 
bend them round in opposite directions — that is, bend the 
right-hand end of the rope to the right, down and under 
the cross sticks, pull it out to the left, as in Fig. 84, then 
bend the left-hand piece of rope to the left, down and 

68 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

under, pulling it out to the right, as in Fig. 84. Next bring 
those two pieces up over and tie them together in a square 
knot, as shown in Figs. 85 and 86. 

Make a duplicate "kite" frame for the other side ex- 
actly as you made the first one, and then arrange these two 
pieces on the ground with the cross sticks F and F on 
the under-side and wdth their butt ends opposite the 
butts of the similar poles on the other frame and about 
five feet apart. Fasten a long line to the point where the 
two F pieces cross each other and detail a couple of scouts 
to hold each of the butt ends from slipping by placing 
one of their feet against the butt, as in Fig. 82, while 
two gangs of men or boys pull on the ropes and raise the 
kite frames to the positions shown in Figs. 81 and 88. 

Be careful, when raising the frames, not to pull them 
too far so that they may fall on some unwary workm^an. 
When the frames are once erected it is an easy matter 
to hold them in place by guy-ropes fastened to stones, 
stakes, or trees or held by men or boys, while some of the 
shorter braces are fastened to hold the two kite frames 
together, as in Fig. 90, wherein you may see these short 
braces at the top and bottom. Next, the two other long 
sticks, legs, or braces (G, G, Figs. 89 and 90) should be held 
temporarily in position and the place marked where they 
cross each other in the centre of the parallelogram which 
should be the same as it is on the legs of the two kite 
frames. The G sticks should now be lashed together at 
the crossing point, as already described and shown by 
Figs. 83, 84, 85, and 86, when they may be put up against 
the sides, as in Fig. 89, in which diagram the G poles 
are made very dark and the kite frames indicated very 
lightly so as to better show their relative positions. 
Lash the G poles at the top and at the other points where 
they cross the other braces and secure the framework 
by adding short braces, as indicated in Fig. 90. 

70 Shelters^ Shacks, and Shanties 

If all the parts are bound together with wire it will hold 
them more securely than nails, with no danger of the poles 
splitting. A permanent tower of this kind may be erected 
on which a camp may be built, as shown in Fig. 87. It 
may be well to note that in the last diagram the tower is 
only indicated by a few lines of the frame in order to 
simplify it and prevent confusion caused by the multi- 
plicity of poles. 

Boy-Scout Tower 

If you desire to make a tower taller than the one de- 
scribed it would be best, perhaps, to take the regular Boy- 
Scout dimensions as given by Scout-master A. G. Clarke: 

** Eight pieces 22 feet long, about 5 or 6 inches thick at 
the base; 4 pieces 6 feet long, about 3 or 4 inches thick at 
the base; 12 pieces 6 feet long, about 23/^ or 3 inches thick 
at base; 12 or 15 pieces for braces and platform about 6 
feet long." 

When putting together this frame it may be nailed or 
spiked, but care must be used not to split the timber 
where it is nailed. With most wood this may be avoided 
by driving the spikes or nails several inches back of the 
ends of the sticks. To erect a flagpole or a wireless pole, 
cut the bottom, of the pole w^dge-shaped, fit it in the space 
between the cross poles, as in Fig. 90 A , then lash it fast to 
the B and A pole, and, to further secure it, two other 
sticks may be nailed to the F poles, one on each side, 
between which the bottom of the flagpole is thrust, as 
shown by Fig. 90 A. 

The flooring of the platform must be securely nailed or 
lashed in place, otherwise there may be some serious ac- 
cident caused by the boys or men falling through, a fall 
of about twenty and one half feet according to the last 
measurements given for the frame. 

Signal-Tower and Game Lookout 71 

An observatory of this kind will add greatly to the in- 
terest of a mountain home or seaside home; it is a prac- 
tical tower for military men to be used in flag signalling 
and for improvised wireless; it is also a practical tower 
for a lookout in the game fields and a delight to the Boy 


By the natural process of evolution we have now arrived 
at the tree-top house. It is interesting to the writer to 
see the popularity of this style of an outdoor building, for, 
while he cannot lay claim to originating it, he was the first 
to publish the working drawings of a tree-house. These 
plans first appeared in Harper's Round Table; afterward 
he made others for the Ladies^ Home Journal and later 
published them in ''The Jack of All Trades." 

Having occasion to travel across the continent shortly 
after the first plans were published, he was amused to 
see all along the route, here and there in back-yard fruit- 
trees, shade-trees, and in forest-trees, queer little shanties 
built by the boys, high up among the boughs. 

In order to build a house one must make one's plans 
to fit the tree. If it is to be a one-tree house, spike on the 
trunk two quartered pieces of small log one on each side 
of the trunk (Figs. 91 and 92). Across these lay a couple 
of poles and nail them to the trunk of the tree (Fig. 91); 
then at right angles to these lay another pair of poles, as 
shown in the right-hand diagram (Fig. 91). Nail these 
securely in place and support the ends of the four poles 
by braces nailed to the trunk of the tree below. The 
four cross-sills will then (Fig. 95) serve as a foundation 
upon which to begin your work. Other joists can now 
be laid across these first and supported by braces running 
diagonally down to the trunk of the tree, as shown in 


74 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Fig. 95. After the floor is laid over the joist any form of 
shack, from a rude, open shed to a picturesque thatch- 
roofed cottage, may be erected upon it. It is well to sup- 
port the two middle rafters of your roof by quartered 
pieces of logs, as the middle rafters are supported in Fig. 
95; by quartered logs shown in Fig. 92. 

If the house is a two-tree house, run your cross-sill 
sticks from trunk to trunk, as in Fig. 94; then make two 
T-braces, like the one in Fig. 94 ^ , of two-inch planks mth 
braces secured by iron straps, or use heavier timber, and 
bolt the parts together securely (Fig. 93), or use logs and 
poles (Fig. 94), after which hang these T's over the ends 
of your two cross sticks, as in Fig. 94, and spike the up- 
rights of the T's securely to the tree trunks. On top of 
the T you can rest a two-by-four and support the end by 
diagonals nailed to the tree trunk (Fig. 94) after the 
manner of the diagonals in Fig. 95. You will note in 
Fig. 95 that cleats or blocks are spiked to the tree below 
the end of the diagonals in order to further secure them. 
It is sometimes necessary in a two-tree house to allow 
for the movement of the tree trunks. In Florida a gentle- 
man did this by building his tree-house on the B sills 
(Fig. 94) and making them movable to allow for the play 
of the tree trunks. Fig. 96 shows a two-tree house and 
Fig. 97 shows a thatch-roofed cottage built among the 
top branches of a single tree. 

It goes without saying that in a high w^ind one does 
not want to stay long in a tree-top house; in fact, during 
some winds that I have experienced I would have felt 
much safer had I been in a cyclone cellar; but if the 
braces of a tree-house are securely made and the trees 
selected have good, hea\y trunks, your tree- top house will 
stand all the ordinary summer blows and winter storms. 
One must remember that even one's own home is not 
secure enough to stand some of those extraordinary gales, 

Tree-Toy Houses 75 

tornadoes, and hurricanes which occasionally visit parts 
of our country. 

Since I published the first plans of a tree-top house 
many people have adopted the idea and built quite ex- 
pensive structures in the boughs of the trees. Probably 
all these buildings are intact at the present writing. 

The boys at Lynn, Mass., built a very substantial house 
in the trees, and the truant officer claimed that the lads 
hid away there so that they could play ''hookey" from 
school; but if this is true, and there seems to be some 
doubt about it, it must be remembered that the fault 
was probably with the schools and not the boys, for boys 
who have ingenuity and grit enough to build a substantial 
house in a tree cannot be bad boys; industry, skill, and 
laborious work are not the attributes of the bad boy. 

Some New York City boys built a house in the trees at 
One Hundred and Sixty-ninth Street, but here the police in- 
terfered, claiming that it was against a city ordinance to 
build houses in shade- trees, and maybe it is; but, fortu- 
nately for the boys, there are other trees which may be 
used for this purpose. There is now, or was recently, an 
interesting tree-house on Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn; a 
house so commodious that it was capable of accommodat- 
ing as many as fifteen people; but it was not as pretty 
and attractive a tree-house as the one located at the 
foot of Mount Tamalpais, in Mill Valley, San Francisco, 
which is built after the plan shown by Fig. 95. This 
California house is attached to the trunk of a big red- 
wood tree and is reached by a picturesque bridge span- 
ning a rocky canyon. 

Tree-houses are also used as health resorts, and recently 
there was a gentleman of Plainfield, Mass., living in a 
tree-house because he found the pure air among the leaves 
beneficial; while down in Ecuador another man, who 
feared malarial mosquitoes and objected to wild beasts 

76 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

and snakes, built himself a house on top of an ibo-tree, 
seventy feet from the ground. This is quite a pretentious 
structure and completely hides and covers the top of the 
tree. It is located on the banks of the Escondido River; 
and in this tropical country, while it may be a safe retreat 
from, the pests enumerated, it might not be so safe from 
lightning in one of those violent tropical storms. But it 
is probably as safe as any house in that country, for one 
must take chances no matter what kind of a house one 
dwells in. 

Primitive and savage men all over the world for thou- 
sands of years have built dwellings in tree tops. In the 
Philippines many natives live in tree-top houses. The 
Kinnikars, hill-tribesmen of Travancore, India, are said 
to live in houses built in the trees, but in New Guinea it 
seems that such houses are only provided for the girls, and 
every night the dusky lassies are sent to bed in shacks 
perched in the tree tops; then, to make safety doubly safe, 
the watchful parents take away the ladders and their 
daughters cannot reach the ground until the ladders are 
replaced in the morning. 

The most important thing about all this is that a tree- 
house is always a source of delight to the boys and young 
people, and, furthermore, the boys have over and over 
again proved to the satisfaction of the author that they 
themselves are perfectly competent to build these shacks, 
and not only to build them but to avoid accidents and seri- 
ous falls while engaged in the work. 


The difference between tomahawk shacks and axe 
houses reminds me of the difference between the ileum 
and the jejunum, of which my classmate once said: 
''There is no way of telling the beginning of one or the 
ending of t'other 'cept by the pale-pinkish hue of the 

It must be confessed that some of the shacks described 
in the preceding pages are rather stout and massive to be 
classed as tomahawk shelters, but, as indicated by my ref- 
erence to physiology, this is not the writer's fault. The 
trouble is owing to the fact that nature abhors the arbi- 
trary division line which man loves to make for his own 
convenience. The tomahawk shacks gradually evolve 
into axe camps and houses and "there is no telling the 
beginning of one and the end of t'other." Hence, when 
I say that all the previous shacks, sheds, shelters, and 
shanties are fashioned with a hatchet, the statement 
must be accepted as true only so far as it is possible to 
build them without an axe; but in looking over the dia- 
gram it is evident at a glance that the logs are growing 
so thick that the necessity of the woodman's axe is more 
and more apparent; nevertheless, the accompanying caches 
have been classed with the tomahawk group and we will 
allow them to remain there. 

Wherever man travels in the wilderness he finds it neces- 


Caches 79 

sary to cache — that is, hide or secure some of his goods or 
provisions. The security of these caches (Figs. 98-1 ii) 
is considered sacred in the wilds and they are not dis- 
turbed by savages or whites; but bears, foxes, husky dogs, 
porcupines, and wolverenes are devoid of any conscien- 
tious scruples and unless the cache is absolutely secure 
they will raid it. 

The first cache (Fig. 98) is called the "prospector's 
cache" and consists simply of a stick lashed to two trees 
and another long pole laid across this to which the goods 
are hung, swinging beneath like a hammock. This cache 
is hung high enough to be out of reach of a standing bear. 

The tripod cache (Fig. 100) consists of three poles lashed 
at the top with the goods hung underneath. 

Another form of the prospector's cache is shown by 
Fig. 102, where two poles are used in place of one and an 
open platform of sticks laid across the poles; the goods 
are placed upon the platform. 

The tenderfoot's cache (Fig. 105) is one used only for 
temporary purposes as it is too easily knocked over and 
would be of no use where animals as large as bears might 
wreck it. It consists of two sticks lashed together at 
their small ends and with their butt ends buried in the 
earth; their tops are secured by a rope to a near-by tree 
while the duffel is suspended from the top of the longest 

The "Montainais" cache is an elevated platform upon 
which the goods are placed and covered with skins or 
tarpaulin or tent-cloth (Fig. 99). 

The "Andrew Stone" cache is a miniature log cabin 
placed on the ground and the top covered with halved 
logs usually weighted down with stones (Fig. loi). 

The "Belmore Browne" cache consists of a pole or a 
half of a log placed in the fork of the two trees on top of 
which the goods are held in place by a rope and the whole 

80 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

covered with a piece of canvas lashed together with eye- 
lets, like a shoe (Fig. 103). 

The "Herschel Parker" cache is used where the articles 
to be cached are in a box. For this cache two poles are 
lashed to two trees, one on each side of the trees (Fig. 
104), and across the two poles the box is placed. 

We now come to more pretentious caches, the first of 
which is the " Susitna, " which is a little log cabin built 
on a table with ^four long legs. The poles or logs com- 
posing the legs of the table are cut in a peculiar fashion, as 
shown in the diagram to the left of Fig. 107; this is in- 
tended to prevent animals from climbing to the top; also, 
as a further protection, pieces of tin are sometimes tacked 
around the poles so as to give no foothold to the claws 
of the little animals. 

Fig. 106 shows two other methods sometimes adopted 
to protect small caches and Fig. 108 is still another method 
of using logs which have the roots still attached to them 
for supports. Such logs can be used where the ground is 
too stony to dig holes for posts. 

Fig. 109 shows another form of the Susitna cache 
wherein the goods are packed in a box-like structure and 
covered with tent-cloth tightly lashed down. 

The "Dillon Wallace" cache (Fig. no) is simply a tent 
erected over the goods and perched on an elevated plat- 

The "Fred Vreeland" cache is a good, solid, practical 
storehouse. It is built of small logs on a platform, as 
shown by Fig. in, and the bottom of the building is 
smaller than it is at the eaves. It is covered with a high 
thatched roof and is ornamental as well as useful. 

These caches might really belong to a book of woodcraft, 
but it is another case of the "ileum and jejunum," and we 
will rule that they technically come under the head of 
shacks, sheds, shelters, and shanties and so are included 

82 Shelters^ Shacks, and Shanties 

in this volume; but there is another and a very good rea- 
son for publishing them in this book, and that is because 
some of them, like Figs. 107 and iii, suggest novel forms of 
ornamental houses on country estates, houses which may 
be used for corn-cribs or other storage or, like the tree-top 
houses, used for pleasure and amusement. 


The old backwoodsmen were as expert with their axes 
as they were with their rifles and they were just as care- 
ful in the selection of these tools as they were in the selec- 
tion of their arms. Many a time I have seen them pick up 
a ^' store" axe, sight along the handle, and then cast it con- 
temptuously aside; they demanded of their axes that the 
cutting edge should be exactly in line with the point in 
the centre of the butt end of the handle. They also kept 
their axes so sharp that they could whittle with them like 
one can with a good jack-knife; furthermore, they allowed 
no one but themselves to use their own particular axe. In 
my log house in the mountains of Pike County, Pa., 
I have a table fashioned entirely with an axe; even the 
ends of the boards which form the top of the table were 
cut off by Siley Rosencranz with his trusty axe because 
he had no saw. 

Both General Grant and Abraham Lincoln were expert 
axemen, and probably a number of other Presidents were 
also skilful in the use of this tool; but it is not expected 
that the modern vacation pioneer shall be an expert, con- 
sequently a few simple rules and suggestions will be here 
given to guide the amateur and he must depend upon his 
own judgment and common sense to work out the minor 
problems which will beset him in the use of this tool. 


84 Shelters^ Shacks, and Shanties 


All edged tools are dangerous w^en in the hands of 
"chumps," dangerous to themselves and to any one else 
who is near them. For instance, only a chump will use 
an axe when its head is loose and is in danger of flying 
off the handle; only a chump will use his best axe to cut 
roots or sticks lying flat on the ground where he is liable 
to strike stones and other objects and take the edge off 
the blade. Only a chump will leave an axe lying around 
on the ground for people to stumble over; if there is a 
stump handy at your camp and you are through using 
the axe, strike the blade into the top of the stump and 
leave the axe sticking there, where it will be safe from in- 

Remember, before chopping down a tree or before using 
the axe at all, to see that there is enough space above and 
around you to enable you to swing the axe clear (Fig. 112) 
without the danger of striking bushes or overhanging 
branches which may deflect the blade and cause accidents 
more or less serious. 

Do not stand behind a tree as it falls (Fig. 115), for the 
boughs may strike those of a standing tree, causing the 
butt to shoot back or "kick," and many a woodsman has 
lost his life from the kick of a falling tree. Before chop- 
ping a tree down, select the place where it is to fall, a place 
where it will not be liable to lodge in another tree on its 
way down. Do not try to fell a tree against the wind. 

Cut a notch on the side of the tree facing the direction 
you wish it to fall (Fig. 113) and cut it half-way through 
the trunk. Make the notch, or kerf, large enough to 
avoid pinching your axe in it. If you discover that the 
notch is going to be too small, cut a new notch, X (Fig. 
116), some inches above your first one, then split off the 
piece X, Y between the two notches, and again make 

86 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

the notch X, Z, and spHt off the piece Z, W, Y (Fig. ii6), 
until you make room for the axe to continue your chop- 
ping. When the first kerf is finished begin another one on 
the opposite side of the tree a Httle higher than the first 
one (Fig. 114). When the wood between the two notches 
becomes too small to support the weight of the tree, the 
top of the tree will begin to tremble and waver and give 
you plenty of time to step to one side before it falls. 

If the tree (Fig. 117) is inclined in the opposite direction 
from which you wish it to fall, it is sometimes possible 
(Fig. 117) to block up the kerf on the inclined side and 
then by driving the wedge over the block force the tree 
to fall in the direction desired; but if the tree inclines too 
far this cannot be done. 

There was a chestnut-tree standing close to my log 
house and leaning toward the building. Under ordinary 
circumstances felling this tree would cause it to strike 
the house with all the weight of its trunk and branches. 
When I told Siley Rosencranz I wanted that tree cut 
down he sighted up the tree, took a chew of tobacco, and 
walked away. For several days he went through the 
same performance, until at last one day he brought out 
his trusty axe and made the chips fly. Soon the chestnut 
was lying prone on the ground pointing away from the 
house. What this old backwoodsman did was to wait 
until a strong wind had sprung up, blowing in the direction 
that he wanted the tree to fall, and his skilful chopping 
with the aid of the wind placed the tree exactly w^here he 
wished it. 

Fig. 118 shows how to make the cuts on a standing 
tree in order to remove the bark, which is done in the 
same manner as that described for removing the birch 
bark (Fig. 38). 



Logs are usually split by the use of wedges, but it is 
possible to split them by the use of two axes. Fig. 119 
shows both methods. To split with the axe, strike it 
smartly into the wood at the small end so as to start a 
crack, then sink the axe in the crack, A. Next take the 
second axe and strike it in line with the first one at B. If 
this is done properly it should open the crack wide enough 
to release the first axe without trouble, which may then be 
struck in the log at C In this manner it is possible to 
split a straight-grained piece of timber without the use 
of wedges. The first axe should be struck in at the smaller 
or top end of the log. To split a log with wedges, take 
your axe in your left hand and a club in your right hand 
and, by hammering the head of your axe with the club, 
drive the blade into the small end of the log far enough 
to make a crack deep enough to hold the thin edge of 
your wedges. Make this crack all the way across the end 
of the log, as in Fig. 119. Put two wedges in the end of 
the log, as in the diagram, and drive them until the wood 
begins to split and crack along the sides of the log; then 
follow up this crack with other wedges, as shown at D 
and E, until the log is split in half. 

While ordinary wood splits easily enough with the 
grain, it is very difficult to drive an axe through the wood 


88 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

at right angles to the grain, as shown by diagram to the 
left (Fig. 120); hence, if the amateur be chopping wood, 
if he will strike a slanting blow, like the one to the right 
in Fig. 120, he will discover that the blade of his axe will 
enter the wood; whereas, in the first position, where he 
strikes the grain at right angles, it will only make a dent 
in the wood and bomice the axe back; but in striking a 
diagonal blow he must use care not to slant his axe too 
far or the blade of the axe may only scoop out a shallow 
chip and swing around, seriously injuring the axeman or 
some one else. 

If it is desired to cut off the limb of a tree, do not dis- 
figure the tree by tearing the bark down; trees are be- 
coming too scarce for us to injure them unnecessarily; if 
you cut part way through the limb on the under-side (see 
the right-hand diagram. Fig. 121) and then cut partly 
through from the top side, the limb will fall off without 
tearing the bark dow^n the trunk; but if you cut only from 
the top (see left-hand diagram, Fig. 121), sooner or later 
the weight of the limb will tear it off and make an ugly 
wound down the front of the tree, which in time decays, 
makes a hollow, and ultimately destroys the tree. A 
neatly cut branch, on the other hand, when the stub has 
been sheared off close to the bark, will heal up, leaving 
only an eye-mark on the bark to tell where the limb once 

If it is desired to chop a log up into shorter pieces, re- 
member to stand on the log to do your chopping, as in 
Fig. 122. This will do away with the necessity of rolling 
the log over when you w^ant to chop on the other side. 
Do not forget to make the kerf, or notch, C, D the same 
as A, B; in other words, the distance across the notch 
should equal the diameter of the log. If you start with 
too narrow a kerf, or notch, before you finish you will be 
compelled to widen it. 


90 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

To flatten a log you must score and hew it. Scoring con- 
sists in making a number of notches, C, Z>, £, F, G, H, J, 
etc., to the depth of the Hne A, B (Figs. 123 and 124); 
hewing it is the act of chopping off or spHtting off the 
pieces A, C and C, D and D, E, etc., leaving the surface 
flat, as shown by Fig. 125, which was known among the 
pioneers as a puncheon and with which they floored their 
cabins before the advent of the saw-mill and milled 

Perhaps it will be advisable for the amateur to take a 
chalk-Une and snap it from A to B (Fig. 123), so that he 
may be certain to have the flat surface level. The expert 
axeman will do this by what he calls ^'sensiation." It 
might be well to say here that if you select for puncheons 
wood with a straight grain and wood that will split easily 
you will simplify your task, but even mean, stubborn wood 
may be flattened by scoring and hewing. Quoting from 
Horace Kephart's excellent book on woodcraft, an experi- 
enced man can tell a straight-grained log "by merely scan- 
ning the bark"; if the ridges and furrows of the bark run 
straight up and down the wood will have a corresponding 
straight grain, but if they are spiral the wood w^ill split 
"waney" or not at all. "Waney" is a good word, almost 
as good as ''sensiation"; so when you try to quarter a 
log with which to chink your cabin or log house don't 
select a " waney " log. To quarter a log split it as shown 
in Fig. 119 and split it along the dotted lines shown in 
the end view of Fig. 126. 

In the Maine woods the woodsmen are adepts in mak- 
ing shakes, splits, clapboards, or shingles by the use of 
only an axe and splitting them out of the billets of wood 
from four to six feet long. The core of the log (Fig. 130) 
is first cut out and then the pieces are split out, having 
wedge-shaped edges, as shown by the lines marked on 
Fig. 127. They also split out boards after the manner 

Splitting and Chopping 91 

shown by Fig. 128. In making either the boards or the 
shakes, if it is found that the wood splinters down into the 
body of the log too far or into the board or shake too far, 
you must commence at the other end of the billet or log 
and split it up to meet the first split, or take hold of the 
split or board with your hands and deftly tear it from the 
log, an art which only experience can teach. I have seen 
two-story houses composed of nothing but a framework 
with sides and roof shingled over with these splits. In the 
West they call these "shake" cabins. 

It may be wise before w^e close this axeman's talk to 
caution the reader against chopping firewood by resting 
one end of the stick to be cut on a log and the other end on 
the ground, as shown in Fig. 131, and then striking this 
stick a sharp blow with the axe in the middle. The effect 
of this often is to send the broken piece or fragment 
gyrating through the air, as is shown by the dotted lines, 
and many a woodchopper has lost an eye from a blow in- 
flicted by one of these flying pieces; indeed, I have had 
some of my friends meet with this serious and painful 
accident from the same cause, and I have seen men in the 
lumber fields who have been blinded in a similar manner. 

There are two sorts of axes in general use among the 
lumbermen; but the double-bitted axe (131 A) appears 
to be the most popular among lumberjacks. My read- 
ers, however, are not lumberjacks but campers, and a 
double-bitted axe is a nuisance around camps. It is 
always dangerous and even when one blade is sunk into 
the tree the other blade is sticking out, a menace to every- 
body and everything that comes near it. But the real old- 
fashioned reliable axe (131 B) is the one that is exceed- 
ingly useful in a camp, around a country place, or a 
farm. I even have one now in my studio closet here in 
the city of New York, but I keep it more for sentiment's 
sake than for any real use it may be to me here. 



The Stefansson Sod Shack 

Now that we know how to wield the axe we can begin 
on more ambitious structures ^^ hose preceding. We 
may now build camps . ,ve use logs instead of 

poles. Most of the . are intended to be covered 

with sod or earth and are nearly related to the old prairie 
dugout. The sod house is used in the arctic regions be- 
cause it is warm inside, and it is used in the arid regions 
because it is cool inside. You will note that the principle 
on which the Stefansson is constructed (Fig. 135) is prac- 
tically the same as that of the Pontiac (Fig. 36); the 
Stefansson frame, however, is made of larger timbers than 
the Pontiac because it not only must support a roof and 
side of logs and sod but must also be able to sustain any 
quantity of snow. 

First erect two forked upright sticks (Fig. 132), and 
then steady them by two braces. Next lay four more 
logs or sticks for the side-plates with their butt ends on 
the ridge-pole and their small ends on the ground as in 
Fig. 133. Support these logs by a number of small up- 
rights — as many as may be necessary for the purpose. The 
uprights may have forks at the top or have the top ends 
cut wedge-shaped to fit in notches made for that purpose 
in the side-plates as shown by Fig. 133 A. The shortest 
uprights at the end of the roof should be forked so that 


94 Shelters^ Shacks, and Shanties 

the projecting fork will tend to keep the roof logs from 
sliding down. The roof is made by a number of straight 
rafters placed one with the butt in front, next with the 
butt in the rear alternately, so that they will fit snugly 
together until the whole roof is covered. The sides are 
made by setting a number of sticks in a trench and slant- 
ing them against the roof; both sides, front, and rear of 
the building should project six inches above the roof in 
order to hold the sod and dirt and keep it from sliding off. 

Up in the north country one must not expect to find 
green, closely cropped lawns or even green fields of wild 
sod in all places. Although in some parts the grass grows 
taller than a's head, in other places the sod is only 
called so by courtesy; it really consists of scraggy grass 
thinly distributed on gravelly and sandy, loose soil, and 
consequently we must secure the sod by having the walls 
project a little above the rafters all around the building. 
Of course, in summer weather this roof will leak, but then 
one may live in a tent; but when cold weather comes and 
the sod is frozen hard and banked up with snow the 
Stefansson makes a good, warm dwelling. 

The same style of a camp can be made in the temperate 
zone of smaller trees and shingled with browse, or in the 
South of cane or bamboo and shingled with palmetto 
leaves, or in the Southwest of cottonwood where it may 
be covered with adobe or mud. Fig. 134 shows a Ste- 
fansson shack roofed with sod. The front is left uncovered 
to show its construction and also to show how the doorway 
is made by simply leaving an opening like that in a tent. 
In winter this may have a hallway built like the one de- 
scribed in the Navajo earth lodge (Fig. 35) or in the Paw- 
nee hogan (Figs. 42 and 43), and in milder weather the 
doorway may be protected with a skin. An opening is 
left in the roof over the fireplace, which answers the pur- 
pose of a chimney. 

Axemen s Camps 95 

The author aims to take hints from all the primitive 
dwellings which may be of service to outdoor people; the 
last one described was arbitrarily named the Stefansson 
because that explorer built himself such shelters in the far 
North, but he did not invent them. He borrowed the 
general plan from the natives of the northern country and 
adapted it to his use, thereby placing the official stamp on 
this shack as a useful building for outdoor people and, con- 
sequently, as deserving a place in this book. 



No observing person has travelled far upon the Ameri- 
can railroads without noticing, alongside the tracks, the 
queer little houses built of railroad ties by Italian laborers. 
These shacks are known by the name of dagoes (Fig. 136) 
and are made in different forms, according to the ingenu- 
ity of the builder. The simplest form is the tent-shaped 
showTi in Fig. 136, with the ends of the ties rested together 
in the form of a tent and with no other support but their 
own weight (see the diagram to the right, Fig. 136). I 
would not ad\dse boys to build this style, because it might 
make a trap to fall in upon them with serious results, but 
if they use a ridge-pole hke the one shown in Fig. 139 
and against it rest the ties they will do away with the 
danger of being caught in a deadfall trap. Of course, 
it is understood that the ridge-pole itself must first be 

Railroad ties being flat (Fig. 137), they may be built up 
into solid walls (Fig. 137) and make neat sides for a little 
house; or they may be set up on edge (Fig. 138) and se- 
cured in place by stakes driven upon each side of them; 
or they may be made into the form of an open Adiron- 
dack camp (Figs. 139 and 140) by resting the ties on a 
ridge-pole supported by a pair of "shears" at each end; 





98 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

the shears, as you will observe, consist of two sticks 
bound together near the top and then spread apart to 
receive the ridge-pole in the crotch. 

All of these structures are usually covered with dirt and 
sod, and they make very comfortable little camps. 

In the Southwest a simple shelter, the " Chimehuevis," is 
made by enclosing a room in upright poles (Fig. 141) and 
then surrounding it with a circle of poles supporting a log 
or pole roof covered with sod, making a good camp for 
hot weather. 

Fig. 142 shows a barrel dugout. It is made by digging 
a place for it in the bank and, after the floor is levelled 
off, setting rows of barrels around the foundation, filling 
these barrels with sand, gravel, or dirt, then placing an- 
other row on top of the first, lea\dng spaces for a win- 
dow and a door, after which the w^alls are roofed with logs 
and covered with sod, in the same manner as the ones 
previously described. The dirt is next filled around the 
sides, except at the window opening, as shown by Fig. 
142. A barrel also does duty as a chimney. - 

Shacks like this are used by homesteaders, miners, 
trappers, and hunters; in fact, these people use any sort 
of material they have at hand. When a mining-camp is 
near by the freight wagons are constantly bringing in sup- 
plies, and these supplies are done up in packages of some 
kind. Boards are frequently worth more a yard than silk, 
or were in the olden days, and so the home builders used 
other material. They built themselves houses of dis- 
carded beer bottles, of kerosene cans, of packing-boxes, 
of any and every thing. Usually these houses were dug- 
outs, as is the barrel one shown in Fig. 142. In the big- tree 
country they not infrequently made a house of a hollow 
stump of a large redwood, and one stone-mason hollowed 
out a huge bowlder for his dwelling; but such shacks belong 
among the freak shelters. The barrel one, however, being 

Railroad-Tie and Barrel Shacks 99 

the more practical and one that can be used almost any- 
where where timber is scarce but where goods are trans- 
ported in barrels, deserves a place here among our shacks, 
shelters, and shanties. 


The houses along the coast of the Bering Sea are called 
barabaras, but the ones that we are going to build now 
are in form almost identical with the Pawnee hogan (Figs. 
42 and 43), the real difference being in the peculiar log 
work of the barabara in place of the teepee-like rafters of 
the said hogan. 

To build a barabara you will need eight short posts for 
the outside wall and six or eight longer posts for the inside 
supports (Fig. 145). The outside posts should stand 
about three feet above the ground after they have been 
planted in the holes dug for the purpose. The top of the 
posts should be cut wedge-shaped, as shown by Fig. 144, in 
order to fit in the notch B (Fig. 144). The cross logs, 
where they cross each other, should be notched like those 
of a log cabin (Figs. 162 and 165) or flattened at the 
points of contact. 

Plant your first four posts for the front of your bara- 
bara in a line, two posts for the corners B and E (Fig. 
145 A), and two at the middle of the line C and D for 
door-jambs (plan, Fig. 145 A). The tops of these posts 
should be level with each other so that if a straight log is 
placed over them the log will lie level. Next plant the 
two side-posts F and G (Fig. 145 ^) at equal distances 
from the two front posts and make them a few feet farther 
apart than are the front posts. The sketch of the frame- 
work is drawn in very steep perspective, that is, it is made 


102 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

as if the spectator was on a hill looking down upon it. It 
is drawn in this manner so as to better show the con- 
struction, but the location of the posts may be seen in 
the small plan. Next set the two back posts, H and K, 
and place them much closer together, so that the bottom 
frame when the rails are on the post will be very near the 
shape of a boy's hexagonal kite. 

Inside erect another set of posts, setting each one op- 
posite the outside ones and about a foot and a half or two 
feet farther in, or maybe less distance, according to the 
material one is using. Next set some posts for the hall- 
way or entrance, which w^ll be the door- jambs, and you are 
ready to build up the log roof. Do this by first setting 
the rail securely on the two side-posts on the right and left 
of the building; then secure the back plate on the two back 
posts at the rear of the building, next resting a long log 
over the side rails at the front of the building. The door- 
posts, of course, must be enough taller than the two end 
posts to allow for the thickness of the log, so that the 
front log will rest upon their top. Next put your two cor- 
ner logs on, and your outside rail is complete. Build the 
inside rail in the same manner; then continue to build 
up with the logs as shown in the diagram until you have a 
frame like that in Fig. 145. Fig. 147 shows the inside of 
the house and the low doorway, and Fig. 148 shows the 
slanting walls. This frame is supposed to be covered with 
splits or shakes (Figs. 147 and 148), but, as in all pioneer 
structures, if shakes, splits, and clapboards are unobtain- 
able, use the material at hand — birch bark, spruce bark, tar 
paper, old tin roofing, tent-cloth, or sticks, brush, ferns, 
weeds, or round sticks, to cover it as you did with the 
Pawnee hogan (Figs. 42 and 43). Then cover it with 
browse, or thatch it with hay or straw and hold the thatch 
in place with poles or sticks, as shown in Fig. 146. The 
barabara may also be covered with earth, sod, or mud. 

The Barabara 103 

This sort of a house, if built with planks or boards nailed 
securely to the rafters and covered with earth and sod, 
will make a splendid cave house for boys and a playhouse 
for children on the lawn, and it may be covered with 
green growing sod so as to have the appearance of an 
ornamental mound. The instinct of the cave-dweller is 
deeply implanted in the hearts of boys, and every year we 
have a list of fatal accidents caused by the little fellows 
digging caves in sand-banks or banks of gravel which fre- 
quently fall in and bury the little troglodytes, but they 
will be safe in a barabara. The shack is ventilated by a 
chimney hole in the roof as shown by Fig. 146. This 
hole should be protected in a playhouse. The framework 
is a good one to use in all parts of the country for more or 
less permanent camps, but the long entrance and low door- 
way are unnecessary except in a cold climate or to add to 
the mystery of the cave house for children. It is a good 
form for a dugout for a root house or cyclone cellar. 




If the reader has ever built little log-cabin traps he 
knows just how to build a Navajo hogan or at least the 
particular Navajo hogan shown by Figs. 148 and 150. 
This one is six-sided and may be improved by notching the 
logs (Figs. 162, 164, 165) and building them up one on top 
of the other, dome-shaped, to the required height. After 
laying some rafters for the roof and leaving a hole for 
the chimney the frame is complete. In hot countries no 
chimney hole is left in the roof, because the people there 
do not build fires inside the house; they go indoors to keep 
cool and not to get warm; but the Navajo hogan also 
makes a good cold-country house in places where people 
really need a fire. Make the doorway by leaving an open- 
ing (Fig. 150) and chinking the logs along the opening to 
hold them in place until the door-jamb is nailed or pegged 
to them, and then build a shed entranceway (Fig. 153), 
which is necessary because the slanting sides of the house 
with an unroofed doorway have no protection against the 
free entrance of dust and rain or snow, and every section 
of this country is subject to visits from one of these ele- 
ments. The house is covered with brush, browse, or sod. 

Log Dugout 

Fig. 152 shows how to make a log dugout by building 
the walls of the log cabin in a level place dug for it in the 





106 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

bank. Among the log cabins proper (Figs. 162 and 166) 
we tell how to notch the logs for this purpose. 

Fig. 151 shows one of these log dugouts which I have 
named the Hornaday from the fact that Doctor William 
Hornaday happens to be sitting in front of the one rep- 
resented in the sketch. Fig. 154 shows a dugout with 
walls made of sod w^hich is piled up like stones in a stone 
wall. The roofs of all these are very flat and made of 
logs (Figs. 54, 55, and 56), often with a log pegged to 
the rafters above the eaves to hold the sod. All such 
houses are good in dry countries, cold countries, and 
countries frequented by tornadoes or by w^inds severe 
enough to blow down ordinary camps. 

The Navajo hogan is an easy sort of a house for boys to 
build because the lads may use small poles in place of logs 
w^ith which to build the camp and thus make the labor 
light enough to suit their undeveloped muscles, but the 
next illustration shows how to build an American boy's 
hogan of milled lumber such as one can procure in thickly 
settled parts of the country. 


The first time any working plans of an underground 
house for boys were published was when an article by the 
present writer on the subject appeared in the Ladies^ 
Home Journal. Afterward it was published with a lot 
of similar material in ''The Jack of All Trades." Since 
then other writers have not hesitated to use the author's 
sketches with very little alteration; imitation is the sin- 
cerest compliment, although it is not always fair, but it 
does, however, show the popularity of the underground- 
house idea. 

The American boy's hogan may be built like the pre- 
ceding shacks of the material found in the woods or it 
may be constructed of old boards and waste material to 
be found in village back yards or on the farm, or, if the 
boys have the price or if they can interest their fathers 
or uncles in their scheme, it may be built of milled lumber 
procured at the lumber-yard. 


Procure some good, sound planks and some pieces of 
two by four with which to build your frame. The hogan 
should be large enough to allow room for a table made 
of a packing-case, some benches, stools, or chairs, and the 
ceilings should be high enough for the tallest boy to stand 
erect without bumping his head. 


108 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 


One funny thing about this house is that it must be fur- \ 
nished before it is built, because the doorway and passage- 
way will be too small to admit any furniture larger than a 
stool. Select or make your furniture and have it ready, 
then decide upon the location of your hogan, which should 
be, like the Western dugouts, on the edge of some bank 
(Fig. 158). In this diagram the dotted Hne shows how 
the bank originally sloped. 


The real hard work connected with this is the digging 
of the foundation; one Y. M. C. A. man started to build 
one of these hogans, but he '^ weakened" before he had 
the foundation dug. He wrote the author a long letter 
complaining of the hard work; at the same time the au- 
thor was receiving letters from boys telling how much 
fan they had in building and finishing their underground 


Ever since "Robinson Crusoe" and "Swiss Family Rob- 
inson" w^ere written cave houses have been particularly 
attractive to boys; no doubt they were just as attractive 
before these books were written, and that may be the 
reason the books themselves are so popular; at any rate, 
when the author was a small boy he was always searching 
for natural caves, or trying to dig them for himself, and 
so were all of his companions. One of the most charming 
features of the "Tom Sawyer" and "Hucklebeiry Finn" 
stories is that part connected with the cave. 








lOO Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Dangerous Caves 

The trouble is that with caves which the boys dig for 
themselves there is always serious danger of the roof fall- 
ing in and smothering the young troglodytes, but a prop- 
erly built underground hogan is perfectly safe from such 


After you have levelled off the foundation erect the 
rear posts of two-by-fours A, B and C, D (Fig. 156). 
These posts should be of the same height and tall enough 
to allow the roof to slant toward the front as in Fig. 155. 
The front posts E, F and G, H, although shorter than the 
back posts, should be tall enough to allow headroom. One, 
two, or three more posts may be erected between the post 
A, B and the post C, D if additional strength is required. 
The same is true of the sides, and in place of having only 
one post in the middle of each side {M, N and O, P, 
Fig. 156), there may be two or three posts, all according 
to the size of the house you are building; the main point 
is to make a compact and strong box of your framework 
so that in the wet weather the banks surrounding it will 
not be tempted to push in the sides and spoil your house. 

Decaying Wood 

Locust, chestnut, and cedar will last longer than other 
varieties of wood w^hen exposed to contact with damp 
earth, but common wood, which rots easily, may be pro- 
tected by preserv^atives, one of which is boiled linseed-oil 
with pulverized charcoal stirred into it until a black paint 
is produced. Some people say that a coat of charcoal 

An American Boy's Hogan 111 

paint will preserve even a basswood fence post for a life- 
time, and if that is true a hogan protected by a coating 
upon the outside of paint made by stirring fine charcoal 
into boiled linseed-oil until it is as thick as paint will last 
longer than any of my readers will have occasion to use 
the hogan for a playhouse. Erect the frame (Fig. 156) 
by having some boys hold the uprights in place until they 
can be secured with temporary braces like those shown 
running diagonally across from B to E and A to F. You 
may then proceed to board up the sides from the outside 
of the frame by slipping the planks between the frame 
and the bank and then nailing from the inside wherever 
you lack room upon the outside to swing your hammer. 
The door-jambs /, / and K, L will help support the roof. 

The Roof 

The roof may be made of lumber, as shown by Fig. 160, 
or it may be made of poles like those shown on the Wyo- 
ming Olebo (Fig. 236), or it may be made of planks and 
covered with tar paper (Figs. 296, 297, 298, and 299), or it 
may be shingled, using barrel staves for shingles, or cov- 
ered with bits of old tin roofing tacked over the plank- 
ing — or anything, in fact, which will keep out the water. 
As for looks, that will not count because the roof is to be 
afterward covered with sod. 

Cliff-House Roof 

If you wish to make the roof as the cliff-dwellers made 
theirs, put your biggest logs crosswise from A, M, E to 
C, O, G of your house for rafters, and across the larger 
logs lay a lot of small poles as close together as may be, 
running from the back to the front of the house. Fill in 
the cracks between with moss or calk them with dry 

112 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

grass; on them place a layer of brush, browse, or small 
sticks and over this a thick coating of clay, hard-pan, or 
ordinary mud and pack it down hard by tramping it 
with your feet until it becomes a smooth and tightly 
packed crust; over this you can put your sod and weeds 
to conceal your secret. 


To make the frame for the underground hall or passage- 
way (Fig. 156), first nail Q, S across the door-jambs to form 
the top to the doorway, after which put in the supports Q, 
R and S, T. Next build the frame U, V, X, W and join it 
to Q, S by the two pieces Q, U and S, V and put in the 
middle frame support marked ZZZZ. 

The passageway should be about six feet long and the 
front doorway ( ?7, V, X,W,Figs. 156 and 157) of sufficient 
size to enable you to creep through with comfort. The 
bottom piece W, X can be nailed to a couple of sticks 
driven in the ground for that purpose. The next thing 
in order is the floor, and to make this firm you must lay 
a number of two-by-fours parallel to B, D and F, H and 
see that they are level. You will need a number of 
shorter pieces of the same material to run parallel to F, H 
and Wj X for the hall floor, as may be seen in Fig. 157. 
Across these nail your floor securely as shown in Fig. 155. 

There are no windows shown in the diagram, but if the 
builders wish one it can be placed immediately over the 
entrance or hallway in the frame marked /, K, Q, S 
(Fig. 156), in which case the top covering of dirt must be 
shovelled away from it to admit the light in the same 
manner that it is in the dugout shown in Fig. 142 and 
also in the small sketch (Fig. 154). The ventilator shown 
in Fig. 155 may be replaced, if thought desirable, by a 
chimney for an open fire. On account of the need of 

An American Boy's Hogan 113 

ventilation a stove would not be the proper thing for an 
underground house, but an open fire would help the ven- 
tilation. In the diagram the ventilator is set over a 
square hole in the roof; it may be made of a barrel or 
barrels, with the heads knocked out, placed over the hole 
in the roof, or kegs, according to the size of the roof. 
When your house is complete fill in the dirt around the 
edges, pack it down good and hard by the use of a piece 
of scantling two by four or four by four as a rammer, 
then cover the roof with small sticks and fine brush and 
sod it with growing weeds or grass. 

The Door 

You should have a good, stout front door (Fig. 157) and 
a padlock with which to secure it from trespassers. 

Aures Hinge 

A rustic hinge may be made by spUtting a forked branch 
(Fig. 157 C) and using the two pieces nailed to the sides 
of the door- jambs (Fig. 157 A) to hold the round ends of 
the rod (Fig. 157-6) run through them. The middle of 
the B stick is flattened to fit on the surface of the door to 
which it is nailed. This hinge was invented by Scout 
Victor Aures of stockade 41 144 of Boy Pioneers of America 
and a description with neat diagrams sent by the inventor 
to his chief. When all is completed you can conceal the 
ventilator with dry brush or by planting v/eeds or shrubs 
around it, which will not interfere with the ventilation 
but will conceal the suspicious-looking pipe protruding 
from the ground. The top of the ventilator should be 
protected by slats, as in Fig. 161, or by wire netting with 
about one-quarter-inch mesh in order to keep small ani- 
mals from jumping or hopping down into your club- 

114 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

house. Of course, a few toads and frogs, field-mice and 
chipmunks, or even some lizards and harmless snakes 
would not frighten any real boy, but at the same time 
they do not want any such creatures living in the same 
house with them. 


In place of a ventilator or chimney a trap-door may be 
placed in the roof and used as a secret entrance, access 
to inside being had by a ladder. A description of an ap- 
propriate ladder follows (Figs. 169 and 170). 

Fig. 159 shows a rude way to make a chandelier, and as 
long as your candles burn brightly you may know that 
the air in your little hogan is pure and fresh. When such 
a chandelier is used pieces of tin should be nailed above 
the candles to prevent the heat from burning holes 
through the roof. 


Boys you have now passed through the grammar school 
of shack making, you are older than you were when you 
began, you have acquired more skill and more muscle, 
and it is time to begin to handle the woodsman's axe, to 
handle it skilfully and to use it as a tool with which to 
fashion anything from a table to a two-story house. None 
of you is too young to learn to use the axe. General 
Grant, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Billy Sun- 
day — all of them could wield an axe by the time they were 
eight or nine years old and do it without chopping off 
their toes or splitting any one else's head open. Remember 
that every time you hurt yourself with an axe I have a 
yellow ribbon for you to wear as a "chump mark"; but, 
joking aside, we must now get down to serious work of 
preparing the logs in order to build us a little cabin of 
our own, a log club-house for our gang, or a log camp for 
our troop of scouts. 

Notching Logs 

To make the logs hold together at the corners of our 
cabins it is necessary to lock them in some manner, and 
the usual way is to notch them. You may cut flat notches 
like those shown in Fig. 162 and this will hold the logs 
together, as shown by 162 £ or you may only flatten the 
ends, making the General Putnam joint shown in Fig. 163. 


116 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

This is called after General Putnam because the log cabins 
at his old camp near my farm at Redding, Conn., are made 
in this manner. Or you may use the Pike notch which 
has a wedge-shaped cut on the lower log, as shown by 
Fig. 164 /, made to fit into a triangular notch show^n by 
164 H. When fitted together these logs look like the 
sketch marked 164 F which was drawn from a cabin built 
in this manner. 

But the simplest notch is the rounded one shown by 
A, By and C (Fig. 165). When these are locked together 
they will fit like those shown at Fig. 165 D. 

Away up North the people dovetail the ends of the logs 
(Fig. 166) so that their ends fit snugly together and are 
also securely locked by their dovetail shape. To build 
a log house, place the two sill logs on the ground or on 
the foundation made for them, then two other logs across 
them, as shown in Fig. 168. 

Handling the Logs 

That the logs may be more easily handled they should 
be piled up on a skidway which is made by resting the top 
ends of a number of poles upon a big log or some other 
sort of elevation and their lower ends upon the ground. 
With this arrangement the logs may be rolled off without 
much trouble as they are used. 


A log cabin built with hardwood logs or with pitch-pine 
logs can seldom be made as tight as one built with the 
straight spruce logs of the virgin forests. The latter will 
lie as close as the ones shown in Fig. 162 E, while the 
former, on account of their unevenness, will have large 
cracks between them like those shown in Fig. 165 D. 
These cracks may be stopped up by quartering small 



118 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

pieces of timber ( Y and W, Fig. 1683^) and fitting these 
quartered pieces into the cracks between the logs where 
they are held by spikes. This is called "chinking the 

To keep the cold and wind out, the cracks may be 
"mudded" up on the inside with clay or ordinary lime 


Study these diagrams carefully, then sit down on the 
ground with a pile of little sticks alongside of you and a 
sharp jack-knife in your hand and proceed to experiment 
by building miniature log cabins. Really, this is the best 
w^ay to plan a large cabin if you intend to erect one. 
From your model you can see at a glance just how to 
divide your cabin up into rooms, where you want to place 
the fireplace, windows, and doors; and I would advise you 
always to make a small model before building. Make 
the model about one foot three inches long by ten inches 
wide, using sticks for logs a little less than one inch in 
diameter — that is, one inch through or one inch thick. I 
have taken these dimensions or measurements from a lit- 
tle model that I have before me here in my studio, but, of 
course, you can vary them according to the plans of your 


Ever since man learned to use edged tools he has made 
ladders or steps, or whatever you may call them, by 
notching logs (Figs. 169 and 170). 

A few years ago I took a splendid trip among the un- 
named lakes and in what is known as "the unexplored 
country" — that is, the unmapped country of northwest- 
ern Quebec. We travelled over trails that had not been 
changed by man since canoes were invented. The for- 
ests were untouched by the axe of the white man. There 
were no roads, no houses, no fences, no people except 
a few wandering Indians, no cattle except caribou and 
moose, no dogs except wolves, and we slept at night on 
beds of balsam and paddled by day through rivers and 
lakes or carried our luggage and our canoes over the port- 
ages from one body of water to another over centuries-old 
trails. At one place the trail led up the side of a moun- 
tain to the beetling face of a cliff — a cliff that we had to 
climb with all our canoes and luggage, and we climbed it 
on a couple of notched logs, as shown in Fig. 169. By 
the way, boys, the Indian with the big load on his back 
is my old friend Bow- Arrow, formerly chief of the Mon- 
tainais, and the load on his back was sketched from the 
real one he carried up that ladder portage. This old man 
was then sixty years of age. But all this talk is for the 
purpose of telling you the use of the notched log. Our 
pioneer ancestors used them to ascend to the loft over 


Notched Log Ladders 121 

their cabins where they slept (Fig. 170). It is also a good 
ladder to use for tree-houses and a first-rate one for our 
underground hogans when we have an entrance through 
the top instead of one at the side shown by Fig. 156. 
Since you have learned how to use the axe you may make 
one of these primitive ladders to reach the hay-loft in your 
barn, if you have a barn. You may make the ladder of 
one log if you set the pole or log upright and notch it on 
both sides so that you can clasp it with your hand and, 
placing one foot on each side of it, climb up in that manner. 




Pole House 

Fig. 171 shows a pole house — that is, a house, the walls 
of which are made by setting straight poles up on end 
w^ith sides against each other and nailing a beam across 
the top (Fig. 172) and toe-nailing them (Fig. 173); that 
is, driving the nails slantingly down through the poles to 
the sill beneath. Fig. 172 shows how to nail them to 
the top beam or side-plate. To build a pole house, erect 
the four corner-posts and any intermediate posts which 
may be necessary, nailing the plates on top of the posts 
to hold the frame together (Fig. 172), afterward fit- 
ting the other posts in place, as shown in the sketch. 

We have not yet arrived at the part of the book where 
\Ye can build as extensive houses as the one shown here. 
The drawing is only inserted at this place because it nat- 
urally comes with the use of the cross-cut saw. You can, 
however, without much trouble, build a small pole house 
without the veranda, and after you have learned how to 
build the big log houses you can turn back to this page 
and try a pole house like Fig. 171. 

Sawing on an Angle 

Fig. 174 shov>'S how to saw off poles on the bias, as a 
woman would say, or on an angle, as a man would say. 


1^4 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Suppose, for instance, you want to cut the poles to fit the 
dormer over the veranda shown in Fig. 171. Measure 
off the height of the middle pole, then the distance along 
the base from the middle pole to the corner at the eaves. 
Next fit the poles you are going to use closely together to 
cover that distance; hold them in place by nailing a. plank 
temporarily across the bottom ends; then place another 
plank at the point marked for the height of the middle 
pole, run it down to the bottom plank, and nail it tempo- 
rarily along this line. Now take hold of one end of the 
saw, as the fellow does in Fig. 174, and let another boy 
take the other end of the saw; then by working it back 
and forth along the line you may saw off the protruding 
ends of the poles. Proceed in the same manner along the 
base-board. You will then have half the dormer poles 
all nicely tacked together and cut in the right shape so 
that they may be evenly fitted in place, and after they are 
secured there the marking planks may be knocked off. 
Fig. 175 shows two boys at work ''pit-sawing." They 
are sawing planks from a log, which is rather hard work 
but not unpleasant. I know, for I have tried it when I was 
up among the moonshiners in the mountains of Ken- 
tucky. Fig. 176 is from a sketch I made up in Michigan, 
where two men were samng down a tree as they fre- 
quently do nowadays in place of chopping it down with 
an axe; this tree, however, was first notched with an axe 
so that it would fall in the right direction. Fig. 178 shows 
the peculiar teeth of one of these two-handled saws. It 
is not necessary for you to be expert on the sort of teeth 
a saw should have; any saw that cuts well for your pur- 
pose is the sort of saw you need. 

A Pole House 125 

The Froe 

Fig. 179 shows two forms of the froe, an implement 
used for splitting shakes and shingles and clapboards like 
those on the roof of Fig. 171. The froe is held by the 
handle with the left hand and hammered on the top with 
a mallet held in the right hand. Fig. 177 shows two boys 
sawing a log up into sections, but for our work in cabin 
building the woodsman's axe is the real tool we need. 
The saw is all right and may be used if you have it, but 
it is a little too civilized for real woodcraft work. You 
cannot throw one of these saws over your shoulder as you 
would an axe and go marching into the woods with any 
comfort. The saw is also a more dangerous implement 
around camp than even a sharp axe. 


Of course my readers know all about geometry, but 
if by the rarest of chances one of them should not it 
will not prevent him from using that science to square 
the corners of his log cabin. Builders always have a ten- 
foot measuring rod — that is, a rod or straight stick ten 
feet long and marked with a line at each foot from end 
to end. Make your own ten-foot pole of as straight a 
piece of wood as you can find. With it measure six feet 
carefully on the log C, G (Fig. i8o) and mark the point 
at O (Fig. 1 80); measure eight feet on the other log C, A 
(Fig. 180) and mark the point at N. If these measure- 
ments have been carefully made from C to O and from 
C to N and your corner is "square," then your ten-foot 
pole will reach between the two points O and N with the 
tips of the pole exactly touching and N. If it does 
not exactly fit between N and O, either the corner is not 
square or you have not marked off the distances accu- 
rately on the logs. Test the measurements and if they 
are not found true then push your logs one way or the 
other until it is exactly ten feet from to N. Then test 
the corner at H in the same manner. 


In the olden times log-rolling was always a great frolic 
and brought the people from far and near to lend a help- 



128 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

ing hand in building the new house. In handling logs, 
lumbermen have tools made for that purpose — cant-hooks, 
peevy irons, lannigans, and numerous other implements 
with names as peculiar as their looks — but the old back- 
woodsmen and pioneers who lived in log houses owned 
no tools but their tomahawks, their axes, and their rifles, 
and the logs of most of their houses were rolled in place 
by the men themselves pushing them up the skids laid 
against the cabin wall for that purpose; later, when the 
peddlers and traders brought ropes to the settlements, 
they used these to pull their logs in place. In building 
my log house in Pennsylvania we used two methods; one 
was hand power (Fig. i8i). Taking two ropes we fastened 
the ends securely inside the cabin. We then passed the 
free ends of the ropes around the log, first under it and 
then over the top of it, then up to a group of men who, 
by pulling on the free ends, rolled the log (Fig. i8i) up to 
the top of the cabin. But when Lafe Jeems and Nate 
Tanner and Jimmy Rosencranz were supplied with some 
oxen they fastened a chain to each end of the log (Fig. 
182), then fastened a pulley-block to the other side of 
the cabin, that is, the side opposite the skids, and ran 
the line through the pulley-block to the oxen as it is run 
to the three men in Fig. 182. When the oxen were started 
the log slid up the skids to the loose rafters N, 0, P and 
when once up there it was easily shoved and fitted into 

Log Steps 

Sometimes one wants front steps to one's log house 
and these may be made of flattened logs or puncheons, as 
shown by Fig. 183. 



Adirondack Log Camp 

Not satisfied with the open brush Adirondack camp, 
the men in those woods often build such camps of logs 
with a puncheon floor and a roof of real shingles. The 
sketch (Fig. 184) is made from such a camp. At the 
rear the logs are notched and placed like those of a log 
house (Figs. 162, 163, 164, 166), but the front ends of 
the side logs are toe-nailed (Fig. 173) to the two upright 
supports. In this particular camp the logs are also flat- 
tened on the inside in order to give a smoother finish, as 
they often are in old Virginia and Kentucky log houses. 
In Virginia they formerly hewed the logs flat with broad 
axes after the walls were up, but that required a work- 
man of a different type than the ordinary woodsman. The 
broadaxe is seldom used now and may be omitted from 
our kit. 

Cabin Plan 

A one-room log cabin with double bunks at one end 
makes a good camp (Fig. 185) with room for two or four 
sleepers according to the width of the bunk (Fig. 186). 


The Adirondack Open Log Camp 131 

The Bunks 

The bunks are made by setting the ends of two poles 
into holes in the logs bored for that purpose (Fig. 185) 
and nailing slats across the poles. Over this a bed of 
browse is laid and on this blankets are spread and all is 
then ready for bedtime. 



Log Tents 

Some years ago in the north country the Indians built 
themselves log tents like the one shown in Fig. 187. 
These were the winter houses in the north country. A 
ridge-pole was set up on two forked sticks and the logs 
slanted up against each other and rested upon that pole. 
Smaller poles were then laid up against this frame, both 
front and rear, all of which could then be covered with 
sod or browse and made into a warm winter house. My 
boy readers may build a similar house by using small 
poles instead of big logs, or they may make a "northland 
tilt" (Fig. 189), which is a modification of the Indian's 
log tent and has two side-plates (Fig. 188) instead of one 
ridge-pole. The log chimney is also added, and when 
this is connected with a generous fireplace the fire will 
brighten and warm the interior of the tilt and make things 
comfortable. The chimney may be made by first build- 
ing a fireplace of sod or stone, as shown in Figs. 269 and 
270, on top of which a chimney can be erected in the 
same manner that you build a log house. 

The front of the northland tilt is faced in with small 
logs set on end, as shown in the unfinished one (Fig. 189); 
this makes a substantial, warm winter camp. If the logs 
fit close together on the roof they may be calked wdth 
moss and dry grass. If the cracks are too wide on ac- 





134 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

count of the unevenness of the log, cover them first with 
grass, fine brush, or browse and over all place a coating of 
sod or mud and you will have a house fit for a king to 
live in. To tell the truth, it is much too good for a mere 
king and almost good enough for a real American boy — 
that is, if anything is good enough for such a lad. 



The *'Red Jacket" is another camp; but this, you see, 
has straight walls, marking it as a white man's camp in 
form not apparently borrowed from the red men. It is, 
however, a good, comfortable, rough camp and Figs. 190 
and 191 show how it was evolved or grew. To build the 
Red Jacket one will first have to know how to build the 
more simple forms which we call the New Brunswick, 
then the next step will be the Christopher Gist, and last 
the Red Jacket. We will now begin with the New Bruns- 

The New Brunswick 

By referring to Fig. 190 you will see that it is practically 
a deep, Adirondack, open-face camp with a wind-shield 
built in front of it. To build this camp, make the plan 
about six feet by twelve on the ground; of course the 
back logs must be something over six feet long to allow 
for six feet in the clear. Notch about four or five back 
logs with the plain, rounded notch already described and 
illustrated by Fig. 165. Then lay the side sill logs and 
erect two upright forked sticks for the front of your 
cabin to hold the cross stick which supports the roof 
rafter. Now build up your cabin as you would a log 
house, notching only the small ends of the side logs and 
saving the larger ends for the front; between each of these 


136 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

chink with other logs shaped to fit the spaces or with 
pieces of other logs so as to make the front higher than 
the rear. When the logs meet the rafter pole all the cracks 
are chinked up with small pieces of wood and the crevices 
calked with moss. Then the roof of bark is put on, 
shingled as described for the Pontiac, and illustrated by 
Figs. 36 and 190 ^. The bark is kept in place by laying 
sticks or poles over it to weight it down, as may be seen 
by the plan of the roof (Fig. 190 A), which is supposed to 
be the way the unfinished roof would look to you if you 
were looking down upon it from the branch of a tree or 
an aeroplane. After you have your open-faced camp 
finished take some green logs from the fir-trees if they are 
handy and split them in half by one of the methods shown 
by Fig. 119. Then leaving enough room for a passage- 
way, erect your wind-shield of green logs, resting them 
•against a pole laid between two forked sticks. Be 
sure you have the green, split side of the log facing the 
camp and the bark side facing outdoors, because the green 
wood will not burn readily; and as the camp-fire is built 
close to the wind-shield, if the shield is made of very in- 
flammable material it will soon burn down. Some woods, 
you know, burn well when green and some woods must 
be made dry before we can use them for fuel; but the wood 
we want for the fire-shield is the sort that will not burn 
readily; the good-burning woods we save to use in our fire. 

Christopher Gist 

The next camp is the Christopher Gist, named after 
George Washington's camping friend. This camp, as 
you may see by Fig. 191, is built like a New Brunswick 
except that the side sill logs are much longer as is also 
the log which extends over the doorway. Then, in place of 
having a wind-shield built by itself, the wind-shield in 

138 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Fig. 191 is the other end of the cabin built just the same 
as the rear end, but it should be built of peeled logs as 
they are less liable to catch afire than the ones with the 
bark upon them. If you feel real lazy it will only be 
necessary to peel the bark off from the inside half of the 
log. Above the door at the end of the roof of the Adiron- 
dack camp part of the space is filled by logs running 
across, with the lower one resting upon the top of the 
door-jamb; this closes the shed above the wind-shield 
and leaves a little open yard in front wherein to build 
your camp-fire. 

The Red Jacket 

The Red Jacket continues the suggestion offered by 
the Christopher Gist and extends the side walls all the 
way across to the wind-shield, and the latter now becomes 
the true end of the log shack. The side walls and end 
wall are built up from the top of the shack to form a big, 
wide log chimney under which the open camp-fire is 
built on the ground. The Red Jacket is roofed with 
bark in the same manner as the New Brunswick and 
Christopher Gist and occupies the important position of 
the missing link between the true log cabin or log house 
and the rude log camp of the hunter. If you will look 
at Fig. 184, the open-faced log camp; then Fig. 190, the 
camp with the wind-shield in front of it; then Fig. 191 
with the wind-shield enclosed but still open at the top; 
then 192 where the wdnd-shield has turned into a fire- 
place with a chimney; then Figs. 271 and 273, showing 
the ends of the real log cabin, you will have all the steps 
in the growth or evolution which has produced the Ameri- 
can log house. 



Perhaps my reader has noticed that, although many 
of the descriptions of how to build the shacks, shanties, 
shelters, camps, sheds, tilts, and so forth are given with 
somewhat minute details, little or nothing has been said 
regarding the doors and door-latches. Of course we have 
no doors on the open Adirondack camp, but we have 
passed the open camps now and are well into cabin work, 
and all cabins have some sort of a door. All doors have, 
or should have, some sort of a door-latch, so the doors 
and door-latches have been saved for this place in the 
book, where they are sandwiched between the log cabin 
and the log houses proper, which is probably the best 
place for them. The ''gummers" who collect spruce 
gum in the north woods and the trappers and all of the 
hermit class of woodsmen frequently come home to their 
little shack with their hands full of traps or with game 
on their shoulders, and consequently they want to have a 
door which may be opened without the necessity of drop- 
ping their load, and so they use a foot latch. 

Foot Latch 

One of the simplest of the foot latches consists of a 
piece of wood cut out by the aid of axe and hunting-knife 
to the form shown by Fig. 199; a hole in the door cut for 


140 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

that purpose admits the flattened and notched end and 
upon the inside it fits the round log sill. The owner of 
the shack, when reaching home, steps upon the foot latch 
(Fig. 199), which lifts up the catch (on the inside) and 
allows the door to swing open. 

Trigger Latch 

Fig. 200 shows a more complicated form of latch with 
a trigger protruding from the lower part of the door, 
which is hinged to a wooden shaft, and the shaft in turn 
is connected with the latch. The fastenings of the trig- 
ger to the shaft and the shaft to the latch are made with 
hardwood pegs or wire nails which move freely in their 
sockets. The latch is the simplest form of a wooden bar 
fastened at one end with a screw or nail on which it 
can move up and down freely; the other end is allowed 
to drop into the catch. The latch itself is similar to 
the one shown in Figs. 193 and 194. The trigger is 
also fastened to a block on the outside of the door by a 
nail or peg upon which it moves freely, so that when the 
weight of the foot is placed upon the trigger outside the 
door that end is forced down which pushed the end at- 
tached to the shaft up; this pushes the shaft up and the 
shaft pushes the latch up; thus the door is unfastened. 
The diagram to the left in Fig. 200 shows the edge of 
the door with the trigger on the outside, the shaft upon 
the inside. The diagram to the right in Fig. 200 shows the 
inside of the door, the end of the trigger, the shaft, the 
latch, and the catch. 

The Latch- String 

In the preceding locks and fastenings, no matter how 
generous and hospitable the owner may be, his latch-string 

142 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

never ''hangs on the outside," but in this one the latch- 
string literally hangs outside and any one may enter by 
pulling it (Figs. 193 and 194). But when the owner is in 
and does not want to be interrupted he pulls the string in, 
which tells the outsider that he must knock before he can 
be admitted. This simplest form of latch has been here put 
upon the simplest form of a door, a door with a wooden 
hinge made by nailing a round rod to the edge of the 
door and allowing the ends of the rod to project above 
and below the door. In the sill log below the door a hole 
about two inches deep is bored to receive the short end 
of the hinge rod; above a deeper hole is bored to receive 
the long end of the hinge rod. To hang the door run 
the long end up in the top hole far enough to lift the door 
sufficiently to be able to drop the lower end of the hinge 
rod in the lower hole. Your door is then hung and may 
swing back and forth at your pleasure. Notwithstanding 
the fact that such a door admits plenty of cold air, it is 
a very popular door for camps and is even used for log 

Simple Spring-Latch 

A simple form of spring-latch is shown by Fig. 196, as 
you may see, ^4 is a peg driven into the door-jamb. It 
has a notch in it's outer end so that B, a piece of hickory, 
may be sprung into the notch; B is fastened to the door 
by a couple of screws. By pushing the door the latch will 
slide out of the rounded notch and the door opens. When 
you pull the door to close it the end of the spring strikes 
the rounded end of the A peg and, sliding over it, drops 
naturally into the slot and holds the door closed. This 
form of latch is also a good one for gates. 

Doors and Door-Latches 143 

Better Spring-Latch 

Figs. 197 and 198 show more complicated spring-latches 
but this latch is not so difficult to make as it may appear 
in the diagram. A and D (197) show, respectively, the 
w^ooden catch and the guard confining the latch. C is 
another guard made, as you may observe, from a twig 
with a branch upon it; the twig is split in half and fast- 
ened at the base with two screws, and at the upper end, 
where the branch is bent down, is fastened with one screw. 
A guard like the one shown by D (Fig. 197) would answer 
the purpose, but I am taking the latch as it was made. 
The lower diagram (Fig. 198) shows a side view of the edge 
of the door with two cotton spools fastened at each end of 
the stick w^hich runs through a slot in the door. E is the 
cotton spool on the outside of the door and F the cot- 
ton spool on the inside of the door. The upper left- 
hand diagram (Fig. 198) shows the slot in the door and the 
spool as it appears from the outside. B (Fig. 197) is the 
spring-latch which is held in place by the spool F. The 
stick or peg which runs through the spools and the slot 
also runs through a hole made for that purpose in the 
spring-latch, as show^n at F (Fig. 197). After the stick 
with the E spool on it has been run through the slot from 
the outside of the door, thence through the spring-latch B 
and into the spool F, it is fastened there by driving around 
its end some thin wedges of wood or by allowing it to 
protrude and running a small peg through the protruding 
end, as shown by F, G (Fig. 197, lower diagram). The 
thin, springy end of your latch is now forced down by a 
peg or nail in the door at H (Fig. 197) and the tail end of 
it forced up by a peg or nail at K. When this is done 
properly it will give considerable spring to the latch and 
impart a decided tendency to force the latch into the 
wooden catch, a tendency which can only be overcome 

144 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

by lifting the spool up in the slot and thus lifting the latch 
and allowing the door to open. Fig. 197 shows the inside 
of the door with the spring-latch, catches and all complete; 
it also gives details of the wooden catch A with guards 
D and C and the fastening of the stick in the spool by a 
peg driven through the end of the stick at F, G. This 
last one is a good jack-knife latch to make for your camp 
or cabin. 


Secret locks are more useful than strong ones for a 
country house which is left alone during the winter 
months, for it is not so much cupidity which causes such 
houses to be broken into as it is the curiosity of the native 
boys. But while these lads often do not hesitate to 
force or pick a lock they will seldom go as far as to smash a 
door to effect an entrance; hence, if your lock is concealed 
your house is safe from all but professional thieves, and 
such gentry seldom waste their time to break open a 
shack which contains nothing of value to them. The 
latches shown by Figs. 193, 200, and 201 may be made 
very heavy and strong, and if the trigger in Fig. 200, the 
latch-string hole in Fig. 193, and the peg hole in Fig. 201 
are adroitly concealed they make the safest and most 
secure locks for summer camps, shacks, and houses. 

If a large bar (Fig. 2011^ B) be made of one-by-four-inch 
plank, bolted in the middle of the plank with an iron bolt 
through the centre of the door and fastened on the inside 
by a nut screwed on to the bolt it will allow the bar to 
revolve freely on the inside of the door and bar the door 
when resting in the A and C catches. But if a string is 
attached to one end it may be unfastened by pulling the 
string up through the gimlet hole in the door. 

To conceal this lock, draw the string through the gim- 
let hole and fasten a nail on the string. When it is un- 


146 Shelters^ Shacks, and Shanties 

drawn the door bar is horizontal and the door conse- 
quently barred. Then push the nail in the gimlet hole 
so that only the head appears on the outside and no 
one not in the secret will ever suppose that the innocent- 
appearing nail is the key to unfasten the door. When 
you wish to open the door from the outside, pluck out 
the nail, pull the string, and walk in. 

There are a thousand other simple contrivances which 
will suggest themselves to the camper, and he can fmd 
entertainment for rainy days in planning and enlarging 
on the ideas here given. In the real wilderness, however, 
every camp is open to all comers — that is, the latch-string 
hangs outside the door, but the real woodsmen respect 
the hospitality of the absent ow^ner and replace whatever 
food they may use with fresh material from their own 
packs, wash all dishes they may use, and sweep up and 
leave the shack in "apple-pic" order after their unin- 
vited visit, for this is the law of the wilderness which even 
horse thieves and bandits respect. 

The Tippecanoe 

The Tippecanoe latch is worked with a wooden spring 
and when properly made, of well-seasoned wood, will 
probably outlast a metal one, for wood will not rust and 
cannot rot imless subjected to moisture. 

The position of the spring in Fig. 201 shows the latch 
with the bolt sprung back. The fact that the bolt-hole 
in the catch is empty also tells the same story. The 
drawing of the outside of the door (Fig. 203) shows by 
the position of the peg that the door is fastened. To 
open the door, push back the bolt by sliding the peg to 
the opposite end of the slot. From a view of the edge 
of the door (Fig. 202) one may see how the peg protrudes 
on the outside of the door. 

1 Mill 


1 / \v\ 



-CO ^^" 


148 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Although the Tippecanoe latch is made of quite a num- 
ber of r ^^ts, it is really a very simple device, but in order 
to dispidy the simplicity of its construction to the ambi- 
tious j. . :-knife latch maker I have drawn all the parts 
but the spring stick natural size (Figs. 204 to 207), but 
since the original diagram is drawn too large for this 
page and was reduced by the engraver there is a scale 
of inches at the bottom to give the reader the propor- 

There are no fixed dimensions for this or any other lock, 
latch, or catch, but the proportions here given are prob- 
ably the ones that will fit your door. The foundation 
block is shown by Fig. 204. Upon this the latch rests 
and is securely nailed or screwed to the door. Figs. 205 
and 206 are two wooden clamps which are fastened to 
the door and also to the foundation block (Fig. 204). 
These clamps must be notched as in the diagrams to 
allow for the movement of the bolt, but since the bolt 
(Fig. 207) is larger and thicker at the butt the notch in 
Fig. 205 is made just a trifle larger than the butt end of 
the bolt and in Fig. 206 the notch is made a trifle smaller 
than the opposite end of the bolt. The object of the off- 
set on the bolt (Fig. 207) forward of the peg is to make a 
shoulder to stop it from shooting too far when the spring 
is loosened. 

The Catch 

Figs. 201 and 2041^ show the catch which is to be 
securely fastened to the door-jamb. The spring, of course, 
must be made of well-seasoned, elastic wood. Hickory is 
the best. This stick may be quite long, say half again as 
long in proportion as the one shown in Fig. 201. It must 
be flattened at the upper end and secured by two nails and 
it must be flattened at right angles to the upper part and 

150 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

somewhat pointed at the lower end so as to fit in a notch 
in the bolt (Fig. 201). A well-made lock of this sort is a 
source of constant joy and pride to the maker and he will 
never tire of springing it back and forth and extolling its 
virtues to his guests. 



Fig. 209 shows the inside of the door with the wooden 
latch in place. You may use planks from the sawmill 
for the door in place of splitting them from spruce logs, 
as the ones here are supposed to be. 

The battens {A, B, C) are made of birch, but you may 
use any material at hand for them. The hinges (Figs. 
£,211 D, 210) are made of birch sticks whittled off at the 
top so as to leave a peg (Fig. £,211) to w^ork in a hole 
in the flattened end of the horizontal battens {A and C, 
Fig. 209). 

The batten B is in two pieces. The top piece serves 
as a brace for the spring (Fig. G, 209) and the bottom piece 
as a support for the bolt (Fig. ^, 209 and 212). The bat- 
tens may be made of a piece of board. The bolt (Fig. H, 
212) works free upon a nail in the left-hand end and rests 
in the catch (Fig. K, 215) on the door-jamb. 

The guard (Fig. /, 216) fits over the bolt and keeps it 
in place. The notch in the guard must be long enough 
to give the bolt free play up and down. 

The spring (Fig. G, 209) is fastened with a nail to the 
door in such a manner that its thin end rests upon the 
top of the bolt with sufficient force to bend the spring 
and hold the bolt down in the catch (Fig. K, 215). 


152 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

The thumb-latch (Fig. L, 213) is whittled out in the 
form shown, and fastened in a slot cut in the door by a 
nail driven through the edge of the door (Fig. M, 213) and 
through a hole in the thumb-latch (Fig. L, 213). On this 
nail the latch works up and down. 

Fig. 217 shows the outside of the door and you can see 
that by pressing down the thumb-latch on the outside 
it will lift it up on the inside, and with it the bolt lifts 
up the free end of the latch and thus unfastens the door. 

The handle (Figs. 217 and 214 N) is used in place of a 
door-knob. It is made of yellow birch bent in hot water. 

The Deming Twin Lock 

E. W. Deming, the painter of Indian pictures, the 
mighty hunter, and fellow member of the Camp-Fire 
Club of America, is a great woodsman. Not only is he a 
great woodsman but he is the father of twins, and so we 
have thought that he possesses all the characteristics 
necessary to entitle him to a place in this book, and after 
him and his twins we have named the twin bolts shown 
by Fig. 208. 

The lower or Hall bolt is shot into a hole in the door-sill, 
and the upper or Billy bolt is shot into a hole in the door- 
jamb above the door. The holes should be protected 
upon the surface of the wood by pieces of tin or sheet 
iron with holes cut in them to admit the bolt. The tins 
may be tacked over the bolt-hole in the sill for the Hall 
bolt and on the bolt-hole overhead for the Billy bolt, and 
it will prevent the splitting away of the wood around the 


Two guards, A and B (Fig. 208), made as in Fig. 216, 
protect the bolts and act as guides to keep them from 

154 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

swinging out of position; two springs C and D (Fig. 208), 
made of well-seasoned hickory and attached to the battens 
on the door by nails or screws, force the bolts down and 
up into the bolt-holes (Fig. 208). To release the bolts, the 
spring must be drawn back as show^n by the dotted lines 
in Fig. 208. This may be done by means of a string or 
picture wire, which is fastened in the ends of the bolts 
and runs through a hole in the ends of the spring and is 
attached to the lever E (Fig. 208). When the end of 
this lever is pushed down into the position shown by the 
dotted line and arrow-point, it lifts up the Hall bolt at 
the bottom of the door and pulls down the Billy bolt over- 
head, thus unfastening the door. 

But, of course, if one is outside the door one cannot 
reach the lever E; so, to overcome this difficulty, a hole 
is bored through the central batten of the door and the 
latch-string is tied to the top end of the lever and the 
other end is run through the hole bored in the door (Fig. 

The end outside of the door is then tied to a nail; by 
pulling the nail you pull down the lever E, which undoes 
the bolts and opens the door. 

When it is desired to leave the door locked, after it is 
closed, push the nail into the latch-string hole so that 
only the head will be visible from the outside. When the 
nail and string are arranged in this manner, a stranger 
will see no means of opening the door, and, as there are 
many nail-heads in all rough doors, the one to which the 
latch-string is attached will not attract the attention of 
any one who is unacquainted with the Deming twin bolt. 


The Aures lock differs from the preceding ones in the 
use of metal springs, but wooden ones may be substituted; 
for instance, a wooden spring like the one in Fig. 209 may 
be put under the bolt or latch shown in Fig. 219, which is 
practically the same latch; that is, if you turn the latch in 
Fig. 209 upside down it will make the latch shown in 
Fig. 219; also, if you take the bolt or lock B in Fig. 219 
and make it of one piece of wood with a spring to it, like 
the one shown in Fig. 208 or Fig. 209, or make it 
exactly like the one shown in Fig. 201, the Aures lock 
can be made altogether of wood. But with this lock, as 
described below, metal springs were used (Figs. 219, 220, 
and 221). 

The Door 

The door shows the two strings H and K coming 
through gimlet holes near the top. Fig. 218 represents 
the outside of the door. The strings may be concealed 
by covering their ends with a board as shown in this dia- 
gram, but even if they are not concealed, one unacquainted 
with the lock will not know how to work them in order 
to open the door. 

A in Figs. 219, 220, and 221 is the latch which is made 
of a piece of wood about eight or nine inches long by 
about one and one half inches wide by an inch or three 
quarters of an inch thick. A hole is drilled near the centre 


156 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

of the latch and a screw placed through which is screwed 
into the door so that the latch will extend about two or 
three inches beyond the end of the door. 

D (Figs. 219, 220, and 221) is a catch or stop which is 
fastened to the door-jamb and keeps the end of the latch 
from flying too far up to lock the door. 

B (Fig. 219) is the key which is made of the same sort 
of wood as the latch; a hole is drilled in this also but it 
is here placed about one inch from the top. A screw is run 
through this, as in the hole in the latch, and screwed into 
the door (Fig. 219). 

Fig. C, 219 is a small block of wood on which a steel- 
band spring has been screwed to keep the key in its proper 
place. The block is screwed to the door a short distance 
above the top of the key. 

Fig. /, 219 is a nail or peg placed in the door close beside 
the key when the key is vertical; this is intended to pre- 
vent the key from being shoved over too far by the force 
of the band spring F. 

Fig. 219 Lis a steel wire spring (a window-shade spring 
will answer the purpose), fastened to the door at one end 
and to the latch at the other end, and serves to keep the 
latch down and in place when locked. 

Fig. 219 i^ is the latch-string, one end of which is fast- 
ened to one end of the latch and the other end run through 
a hole near the top of the door and extending outside the 
same as the latch-string (Fig. 218). 

Fig. 219 shows the positions of the latch and key when 
the latch is locked; to open the lock from the outside it is 
necessary to pull the key string first (H, Fig. 220), which 
releases the key; then pull the latch-string, thus lifting 
the latch while still holding the key string. The key 
string is now let go; the spring forcing the key into the 
position shown in Fig. 221 will keep the door unlocked. 

When leaving the room, all that is necessary is to pull 



lo8 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

the key string which lifts the key, then let go the latch- 
string, and the latch will spring back to its locked posi- 
tion and the key will also fly back into its position as in 
Fig. 219. Any one not knowing the combination will be 
unable to open the door. 

The Compass Lock 

This lock is made on the same principle as the com- 
bination safe lock, but it is a lock any bright boy can 
make for himself. In the first place, instead of numbers, 
use compass divisions; that is, use a disk with the points 
of the compass scratched on it and an ordinary door-knob 
with an index mark filed on its base, as shown by Fig. 224 
where the finger is pointing. 

Hunt up three old door-knobs like those shown in 
Figs. 222, 224, and 225. WTien you take one of the door- 
knobs off one end of the shaft you will find several small 
screw holes in the steel shaft (Fig. 222). Over this end 
you set a block of hardwood which you fashion out of a 
square block (Fig. 223) by first cutting off the corners as 
shown by the dotted lines, then whittling the angles off 
until it becomes rounded like a compass face; after which 
saw off an arc, that is, part of a circle, as shown in Figs. 
224, 226, and 227. Next make a square hole through the 
centre of the circle to fit the square end of the steel shaft 
of the door-knob. The square hole is not the centre of 
the block as it is now cut, but it is the centre of the block 
as it was when it was round ; that is, the centre of the circle. 
Insert the square end of the steel shaft into the square 
hole in the block, and, through a hole carefully drilled for 
the purpose, put a screw down through the hole in the 
end of the steel shaft (Fig. 224); this will firmly fix the 
block on the end of the knob. Of course, the knob must 
be inserted through the door before the block is perma- 

The Aures Lock Latch 159 

nently fastened upon the end of the shaft. Fig. 225 shows 
the edge of the door with the three knobs in place. If 
these knobs are so turned (Fig. 226) that their flat edges 
are parallel with the crack of the door, there is nothing 
to prevent you from opening the door; but if the knobs 
are so turned (Fig. 227) that the blocks overlap the crack 
of the door, the door cannot be opened without breaking 
the lock. 

It is evident that we must have some sort of a mark 
to tell us how to make the proper combination so that 
the door may be opened. To do this, take the metal 
washer of the door-knob (the upper figure in Fig. 228) 
or a circular piece or disk of tin and divide it up like a 
compass (Fig. 228). Fasten these disks securely on to 
the door with nails or screws; place all of the disks with 
the north point pointing to the top of the door and in 
line with each other. File in the circular base of each 
door-knob (Fig. 224) a little notch at the black mark 
where the finger is pointing, then put the door-knobs in 
place and fasten them there (Fig. 225) by screwing the 
block on their ends (Fig. 224) and securing the screws in 
the blocks by running them through the shaft. Care- 
fully turn the knobs so that the block on the inside fits 
like those shown in Fig. 226. Jot down in your note- 
book the position of the index on each knob (finger point, 
224); one may read northeast, another may read south- 
west, and another may read south. When one wants to 
open the door one must turn the knobs so that they 
will read according to the notes and the door may be 
opened; but unless the indexes read as noted some of 
them will be turned as in Fig. 227, locking the door, and 
it may not be opened. 

When the door is closed, twist the knobs around and it 
will lock them so that no one else can open the door 
unless they know the combination. The fact that there 

160 Shelters^ Shacks ^ and Shanties 

is a combination will not be suggested to a stranger by 
the compasses, although it might be suggested if there 
were figures in place of compass points. But even sup- 
posing they did suspect a combination it would take a 
long time for them to work it out, and no one would do 
it but a thief. A burglar, however, would not take the 
time; he would pry open the door with his "jimmy" and, 
as I have said before, these locks are for the purpose of 
keeping out tramps, vagrants, and inquisitive boys. 

We have no locks yet invented which will keep out a 
real, professional burglar if he has reason to suppose there 
are valuables inside. 

The safety of your log cabin depends principally upon 
the fact that valuables are not kept in such shacks, and 
real burglars know it. 


Now that we know how to make doors and door-latches, 
locks, bolts, and bars, we may busy ourselves with building 
an American log cabin. It is all well enough to build 
our shacks and shanties and camps of logs with the bark 
on them, but, when one wishes to build a log cabin, one 
wants a house that will last. Abraham Lincoln's log 
cabin is still in existence, but it was built of logs with 
no bark on them. There is a two-story log house still 
standing in Dayton, O.; it is said to have been built 
before the town was there; but there is no bark on the 
logs. Bark holds moisture and moisture creates decay 
by inviting fibrous and threadlike cousins of the toad- 
stool to grow on the damp wood and work their way into 
its substance. The bark also shelters all sorts of boring 
insects and the boring insects make holes through the logs 
which admit the rain and in the end cause decay, so that 
the first thing to remember is to peel the logs of which 
you propose to build the cabin. There is now, or was 
lately, a log cabin on Hempstead Plains, L, I., near the 
road leading from Mineola to Manhassett; it is supposed 
to have been built when the first white settlers began to 
arrive on Long Island, but this was what was known as 
a "blockhouse," a small fort. In 1906 Mr. I. P. Saping- 
ton said: "I think that I am the only man now living 
who helped build General Grant's log cabin." Grant's 
house was what is popularly known in the South as a 


162 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

*' saddle-bag" log house, or, as the old Southwestern set- 
tlers called it, a ''two-pen," the pens being two enclosures 
wath a wide passageway or gallery between them, one roof 
extending over both pens and the gallery. 

General Grant was not afraid of work, and, like a good 
scout, was always willing to help a neighbor. He had a 
team of big horses, a gray and a bay, and the loads of 
cord-wood he hauled to St. Louis were so big that they 
are still talked of by the old settlers. In the summer of 
1854 Grant started his log cabin, and all his neighbors 
turned in to help him build his house. 

American Log House 

The American log house differs from the Canadian log 
house principally in the shape of the roof. Our old set- 
tlers made steep gambrel roofs to shed the rain. 

"Gambrel! Gambrel? Let me beg 
You'll look at a horse's hinder leg; 
First great angle above the hoof, 
That's the gambrel, hence the gambrel roof." 

The Canadians put very flat roofs on their log cabins, 
usually composed of logs laid over the rafters, making 
them strong enough to support the hea\'y weight of snow\ 
The American log cabins, as a rule, are built in a milder 
climate, and the flat sod roof is peculiar to our Northern 
boundary and the hot, arid parts of our country. We 
build the chimneys outside of our log cabins because, as 
the old settlers would say, ''thar's more room out thar" 
(see Figs. 271, 273). 

One-Pen Cabin 

Fig. 229 is a one-pen cabin. To build it we first snake 
our logs to a skid near the site of our proposed cabin 

1,^1 ^1 -^n ^f ^1} ^:! ji ji_ 


164 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

(Fig. 167), from which we can roll our logs to our house 
as we need them. Lay out the corners and square them 
(Fig. 180); notch the logs with a rounded or U-shaped 
notch (Fig. 165). Remember that all the logs should be 
two or three feet longer than the walls of the proposed 
building, but the notches must be the same distance 
apart in order to make even walls. The protruding ends 
of the logs may be allowed to stick out as they happen to 
come, no matter how irregular they may be, until the cabin 
is erected; then with a two-handed saw and a boy at each 
end they can be trimmed off evenly, thus giving a neat 
finish to the house. 


The largest, straightest, and best logs should be saved 
for sills or foundations. If you are building a "mudsill," 
that is, a building upon the ground itself, the sill logs will 
be subject to dampness which \\ill cause them to rot un- 
less they are protected by some wood preservative. 

Wood Preservative 

If the logs are painted with two or three coats of 
creosote before they are laid upon the groimd, it will pro- 
tect them for an indefinite time and prevent decay. 
Hugh P. Baker, dean of the New York State College of 
Forestry, writes me that — 

two or three applications of warm oil with a brush will be 
very helpful and will probably be all that the ordinary man 
can do. Creosote is the best preservative because of its pen- 
etrating power and the way it acts upon the fibres of wood, 
and in the end is cheaper than a good many other things 
which have been used to preserve timber. In fact, various 
forms of creosote are best-known preservers of organic mat- 
ter. There is no advantage in using charcoal at all and I 

The American Log Cabin 165 

presume suggestions have been made for using it because we 
know that charred wood is more durable. Linseed-oil is 
good; ordinary white-lead paint will be better, but neither 
of them is as effective as creosote, and both are more expen- 
sive. You will find that carbolineum and other patent prep- 
arations are recommended very highly; they are good but 
expensive and the difference in price between these patent 
preparations and ordinary creosote is much larger than is 
justified by their increased value. Creosote can be procured 
in large or small quantities from a number of concerns. I 
think we have been getting it for about ten dollars per barrel 
of fifty or fifty-three gallons. 


may be purchased in large or small quantities from vari- 
ous manufacturing companies, such as the Barret Manu- 
facturing Company, 17 Battery Place, New York City, and 
the Chattfield Manufacturing Company, Carthage, O., 
handle it in large quantities. 


Build the pen as if it were to have no openings, either 
doors, windows, or fireplaces. When you reach the point 
where the top of the door, window, or fireplace is to be 
(Fig. 229) saw out a section of the log to mark the 
place and admit a saw when it is desired to finish the 
opening as shown in the diagram and continue building 
until you have enough logs in place to tack on cleats like 
those shown in Figs. 229, 230, and 231, after which the 
openings may be sawed out. The cleats will hold the 
ends of the logs in place until the boards U (Fig. 232) for 
the door-jambs, window-frames, or the framework over 
the fireplace can be nailed to the ends of the logs and 
thus hold them permanently in place. If your house is a 
"mudsill/' wet the floor until it becomes spongy, then 

166 Shekel's, Shacks, and Shanties 

with the butt end of a log ram the dirt down hard until 
you have an even, hard floor — such a floor as some of the 
greatest men of this nation first crept over when they were 
babies. But if you want a board floor, you must neces- 
sarily have floor-joists ; these are easily made of milled lum- 
ber or you may use the rustic material of which your house 
is built and select some straight logs for your joists. Of 
course, these joists must have an even top surface, which 
may be made by flattening the logs by scoring and hewing 
them as illustrated by Figs. 123, 124, and 125 and pre- 
viously described. It will then be necessary to cut the 
ends of the joist square and smaller than the rest of the log 
(Fig. A) 229); the square ends must be made to fit easily 
into the notches made in the sill logs (B, Fig. 229) so 
that they will all be even and ready for the flooring 
(C, Fig. 229). For a house ten feet wide the joists should 
be half a foot in diameter, that is, half a foot through 
from one side to the other; for larger spans use larger 
logs for the joists. 


If your house is not a "mudsill'' you may rest your 
sill logs upon posts or stone piles; in either case, in the 
Northern States, they should extend three feet below 
the ground, so as to be below frost-fine and prevent the 
upheaval of the spring thaw from throwing your house 
*'out of plumb." 


All the old-time log cabins were roofed with shakes, 
splits, clapboards, or hand-rived shingles as already de- 
scribed and illustrated by Figs. 126, 128, 129, and 130; 
but to-day they are usually shingled with the machine- 
sawed shingle of commerce. You may, however, cover 
the roof with planks as shown by Fig. 233 or with bark 

The American Log Cabin 167 

weighted down with poles as shown by Fig. 234. In 
covering it with board or plank nail the latter on as you 
would on a floor, then lay another course of boards over 
the cracks which show between the boards on the first 


The gable ends of the cabin should be built up of logs 
with the rafters of the roof running between the logs as 
they are in Figs. 229 and 233, but the roof may be built, 
as it frequently is nowadays, of mill lumber, in which 
case it may be framed as shown by Figs. 49, 51, and the 
gable end above the logs filled in with upright poles as 
shown in Figs. 173 and 247, or planked up as shown in 
the Southern saddle-bag (Fig. 241), or the ends may be 
boarded up and covered with tar paper as shown in Fig. 
248, or the gable end may be shingled with ordinary 
shingles (Fig. 79). 

Steep Roof 

Remember that the steeper the roof is the longer the 
shingles will last, because the water will run off readily 
and quickly on a steep surface and the shingles have an 
opportunity to dry quickly; besides which the snow 
slides off a steep roof and the driving rains do not beat 
under the shingles. If you are using milled lumber for 
the roof, erect the rafters at the gable end first, with the 
ridge board as shown in Fig. 263 and in greater detail in 
Fig. 49. Put the other rafters two or three feet apart. 

Let your roof overhang the walls by at least seven or 
eight inches so as to keep the drip from the rain free of 
the wall. It is much easier for the architect to draw a 
log house than it is for a builder to erect one, for the sim- 
ple reason that the draughtsman can make his logs as 
straight as he chooses, also that he can put the uneven 

168 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

places where they fit best; but except in well-forested 
countries the tree trunks do not grow as straight as the 
logs in my pictures and you must pick out the logs which 
will fit together. Run them alternately butt and head; 
that is, if you put the thick end of the log at the right- 
hand end of your house, with the small end at the left, 
put the next log with the small end at the right and 
thick end at the left; otherwdse, if all the thick ends are 
put at one side and the small ends at the other, your 
house will be taller at one end than at the other as is the 
case with some of our previous shacks and camps (Figs. 
190, 191, and 192) which are purposely built that way. 

If it is planned to have glass window lights, make your 
window openings of the proper size to fit the window- 
frames which come with the sashes from the factory. In 
any case, if the cabin is to be left unoccupied you should 
have heavy shutters to fit in the window opening so as to 
keep out trespassers. 


If your logs are uneven and leave large spaces between 
them, they may be chinked up by filling the spaces with 
mud plaster or cement, and then forcing in quartered 
pieces of small logs and nailing them or spiking them in 
position. If your logs are straight spruce logs and fit 
snugly, the cracks may be calked up with swamp moss 
(Sphagnum), or like a boat, with oakum, or the larger 
spaces may be filled with flat stones and covered with 
mud. This mud will last from one to seven or eight years; 
I have some on my own log cabin that has been there even 
a longer time. 



In all the hilly and mountainous States there are tracts 
of forest lands and waste lands of no use to the farmer 
and of no use to settlers, but such places offer ideal spots 
for summer camps for boys and naturalists, for fishermen 
and sportsmen, and here they may erect their cabins {see 
Frontispiece) and enjoy themselves in a healthy, natural 
m^anner. These cabins will vary according to the wants 
of the owners, according to the material at hand and the 
land upon which they are built. By extending the rafters 
of the roof, the latter may be extended {see Frontispiece) 
to protect the front and make a sort of piazza which may 
be floored with puncheons. 

The logs forming the sides of the house may be allowed 
to extend so as to make a wall or fence, as they do on the 
right-hand side of the Frontispiece, thus preventing the 
danger of falling over the cliff upon which this cabin is 
perched and receiving injury or an unlooked-for ducking 
in the lake. They may also be extended as they are on 
the left, to make a shield behind which a wood-yard is 
concealed, or to protect an enclosure for the storage of the 
larger camp utensils. 

In fact, this drawing is made as a suggestion and not 
to be copied exactly, because every spot differs from every 
other spot, and one wants to make one's house conform to 
the requirements of its location; for instance, the logs 


170 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

upon the right-hand side might be allowed to extend 
all the way up to the roof, as they do at the bottom, and 
thus make a cosey corner protected from the wind and 

The windows in such a cabin may be made very small, 
for all work is supposed to be done outdoors, and when 
more light is needed on the inside the door may be left 
open. In a black-fly country or a mosquito country, 
however, when you are out of reach of screen doors, mos- 
quito-netting may be tacked over the windows and a por- 
tiere of mosquito-netting over the doorway. 



One of the charms of a log-cabin building is the many 
possibilities of novelties suggested by the logs themselves. 
In the hunter's cabin {see Frontispiece) we have seen how 
the ends of the logs were allowed to stick out in front and 
form a rail for the front stoop; the builders of the olebos 
have followed this idea still further. 

The Wyoming Olebo 

In Fig. 236 we see that the side walls of the pen are 
allowed to extend on each side so as to enclose a roofed- 
over open-air room, or, if you choose to so call it, a front 
porch, veranda, stoop, piazza, or gallery, according to the 
section of the country in which you live. 

So as to better understand this cabin the plan is drawn 
in perspective, with the cabin above and made to appear 
as if some one had lifted the cabin to show the ground- 
floor plan underneath. The olebo roof is built upon the 
same plan as the Kanuck (Fig. 244), with this exception, 
that in Fig. 244 the rooftree or ridge-log is supported by 
cross logs which are a continuation of the side of the house 
(A, A, Figs. 242, 244, and 245), but in the olebo the ridge 


172 Shelters i Shacks y and Shanties 

pole or log is supported by uprights (Figs. 236 and 237). 
To build the olebo lay the two side sill logs first (A, B, 
and C, D, Fig. 236), then the two end logs E, F, and D, B 
and proceed to build the cabin as already described, al- 
lowing the irregular ends of the logs to extend beyond the 
cabin until the pen is completed and all is ready for the 
roof, after which the protruding ends of the logs excepting 
the two top ones may be sawed off to suit the taste and 
convenience of the builder. The olebo may be made of 
any size that the logs will permit and one's taste dictate. 
After the walls are built, erect the log columns at A and C 
(Fig. 236), cut their tops wedge shape to fit in notches in 
the ends of the projecting side-plates (Fig. 144, A and B) ; 
next lay the end plate (G, Fig. 236) over the two top logs 
on the sides of your house which correspond to the side- 
plates of an ordinary house. The end plate G is notched 
to fit oi> top of the side-plates, and the tops of the side- 
plates have been scored and hewn and flattened, thus 
making a General Putnam joint like the one shown above 
(G, Fig. 236); but when the ends of the side logs of the 
cabin were trimmed off the side-plates or top side logs were 
allowed to protrude a foot or more beyond the others; this 
was to give room for the supporting upright log columns 
at A and C (see view of cabin, Fig. 236 and the front 
view, Fig. 237). H and / (Fig. 237) are two more upright 
columns supporting the end plate which, in turn, supports 
the short uprights upon which the two purlins L and M 
rest; the other purlins K and N rest directly upon the 
end plate (Fig. 237). The rear end of the cabin can have 
the gable logged up as the front of the house is in Fig. 
'240, or filled in with uprights as in Fig. 247. The roof of 
the olebo is composed of logs, but if one is building an 
olebo where it will not be subjected during the winter to 
a great weight of snow, one may make the roof of any 
material handy. 

174 Shelter s^ Shacks, and Shanties 

Hoko River Olebo 

The Hoko River olebo has logs only up to the ceiling 
of the first story (Fig. 238), or the half story as the case 
may be ; this part, as you see, is covered with shakes pre- 
viously illustrated and described (Figs. 127, 128, 129, and 
130). The logs supporting the front of the second story 
serve their purpose as pillars or supports only during the 
winter-time, when the heavy load of snow might break off 
the unsupported front of the olebo. In the summer-time 
they are taken away and set to one side, leaving the 
overhang unsupported in front. The shakes on the side 
are put on the same as shingles, overlapping each other 
and breaking joints as shown in the illustration. They 
are nailed to the side poles, the ends of which you may 
see protruding in the sketch (Fig. 238). 

The Mossback Cabin 

In the north country, where the lumbermen are at 
work, the farmers or settlers are looked down upon by 
the lumberjacks much in the same manner as the civil- 
ians in a military government are looked down upon by 
the soldiers, and hence the lumberjacks have, in derision, 
dubbed the settlers mossbacks. 


Fig. 239 shows a mossback's house or cabin in the 
lake lands of Canada. The same type of house I have 
seen in northern Michigan. This one is a two-pen house, 
but the second pen is made like the front to the olebo, 
by allowing the logs of the walls of the house itself to 
extend sufiicient distance beyond to make another room, 
pen, or division. In this particular case the settler has 

Olebos, Mossbacks, and Saddle-Bags 175 

put a shed roof of boards upon the division, but the main 
roof is made of logs in the form of tiles. In Canada these 
are called les auges (pronounced oge), a name given to 
them by the French settlers. The back of this house has 
a steeper roof than the front, which roof, as you see, ex- 
tends above the ends of les auges to keep the rain from 
beating in at the ends of the wooden troughs. Above 
the logs on the front side of the small room, pen, or 
addition the front is covered with shakes. Fig. 240 shows 
a cabin in the Olympic mountains, but it is only the ordi- 
nary American log cabin with a shake roof and no win- 
dows. A cooking-stove inside answers for heating appa- 
ratus and the stovepipe protrudes above the roof. 

The Southern Saddle-Bag or Two-Pen Cabin 

Now we come to the most delightful of all forms of a 
log house. The one shown in Fig. 241 is a very simple 
one, such as might be built by any group of boys, but I 
have lived in such houses down South that were very 
much more elaborate. Frequently they have a second 
story which extends like the roof over the open gallery 
between the pens; the chimneys are at the gable ends, 
that is, on the outside of the house, and since we will have 
quite a space devoted to fireplaces and chimneys, it is 
only necessary to say here that in many portions of the 
South the fireplaces, while broad, are often quite shallow 
and not nearly so deep as some found in the old houses on 
Long Island, in New York, and the Eastern States. The 
open gallery makes a delightful, cool lounging place, also 
a place for the ladies to sit and sew, and serves as 
an open-air dining-room during the warm weather; this 
sort of house is inappropriate and ill fitted for the cli- 
mate which produced the olebo, the mossback, and the 
Kanuck, but exactly suited for our Southern States and 

176 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

very pleasant even as far north as Ohio, Indiana, and 
Illinois. I have lived in one part of every summer for the 
last twenty-two years in the mountains of northern Penn- 
sylvania. The saddle-bag may be built by boys with 
the two rooms ten by ten and a gallery six feet wide, or 
the two rooms six by six and a gallery five feet wide; the 
plan may be seen on the sketch below the house (Fig. 

Where you only expect to use the house in the summer 
months, a two-pen or saddle-bag can be used with com- 
fort even in the Northern States, but in the winter-time 
in such States as Michigan and part of New York, the 
gallery would be filled up with drifting snow. 



If the writer forgets himself once in a while and uses 
words not familiar to his boy readers, he hopes they will 
forgive him and put all such slips down as the result of 
leaving boys' company once in a while and associating 
with men. The reader knows that men dearly love big, 
ungainly words and that just as soon as boys do something 
worth w^hile the men get busy hunting up some top-heavy 
name for it. 

When one is talking of foreign things, however, it 
is well to give the foreign names for those things, and, 
since the next house to be described is not a real American 
one but a native of Canada, the Canadian names are 
given for its parts. While in northern Quebec, making 
notes for the Kanuck, the writer enlisted the interest of 
a fellow member of the Camp-Fire Club of America, 
Doctor Alexander Lambert, and through him secured the 
names of all parts of the Canadian shack. 

The author is not a French-Canadian, and, although, 
like most of his readers, he studied French at school, what 
he learned of that great language is now securely locked 
up in one of the safe-deposit vaults of his brain and the 
key lost. 

He owns up to his ignorance because he is a scout and 
would not try to deceive his readers, also because if the 
reader's knowledge of French enables him to find some 
error, the writer can sidestep the mistake and say, 


178 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

"'Tain't mine." But, joking aside, these names are the 
ones used in the Province of Quebec and are here given 
not because they are good French but because they are 
the names used by the builders among the natives known 
by the Indians as les habitants 

Local Names of Parts of Cabin 

spruce epinette 

balsam sapin 

to chop boucher. Figs. 113 and 122 

to cut couper 

logs les bois or les billots. A, A, A, 

Figs. 242, 245, also 119, 
126, etc. 

square carre 

door porte, Figs. 242, 243 

window chassis, Fig. 243 

window-glass les vitres, 242 

the joist on which the floor is 

laid les traverses, Fig. 49, B, B, B, 

B, Fig. 244 

the floor itself plancher 

the purHns, that is, the two big 

logs use^ to support the roof .les poudres, C, C, Fig. 244 

the roof couverture. Fig. 242 

bark ecorce 

birch bark bouleau 

the poles put on a birch-bark 

roof to keep the bark flat les peches. Figs. 4^,234, 242 

the hollow half-logs sometimes 

used like tiling on a roof les auges. Fig. 246 

piazza, porch, front stoop, ve- 
randa galerie. Figs. 236, 237, and 241 

The only thing that needs explanation is the squaring 
of the round logs of the cabin. For instance, instead of 
leaving the logs absolutely round and untouched inside 

180 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

the camp, after the logs are placed, they are squared off 
so as to leave a flat surface (Fig. 125). They call this 
the carreage. I do not know whether this is a local name 
or whether it is an expression peculiar to that Quebec 
section of Canada or whether it is simply a corruption 
of better French. It is derived from the word carrer, to 

The perspective drawings (Figs. 242 and 243) show 
views of the cabin we call the Kanuck. The pen is built 
exactly as it is built in the houses already described. The 
windows are placed where the builder desires, as is also 
the doorway, but when the side-plate logs, that is 

Les Traverses 

or top side logs, are put in place, then the traverses logs 
(B, B, B, B, Fig. 244) are laid across the pen from one side- 
plate to the other, their ends resting on top of the side- 
plates over the traverses logs, the two purlins 

Les Poudres 

(C, C, Fig. 244) are notched and fitted, and over their ends 
the two pieces D, D are fitted, and, resting on the centres 
of the D logs, the ridge log (£, Fig. 244) is placed. 


The roof is made of small logs flattened on the under- 
side or left in their rounded form (Fig. 242) and laid from 
the ridge logs down, extending over the eaves six or more 

Les Peches 

The roof logs are then held in place by poles pegged 
with wooden pegs to the roof (F, G, Fig. 242). 

A Kanuck Log Cabin 181 

Roofing Material 

The roof is now covered with a thick layer of browse, 
hay, straw, dry leaves, or dry grass, and on top of this 
moist blue clay, yellow clay, hard-pan, or simple mud is 
spread and trampled down hard, forcing the thatch under- 
neath into all the cracks and crannies and forming a firm 
covering of clay several inches thick. 


The fireplace and chimney may be built inside or 
outside the cabin, or the house may be heated by a stove 
and the stovepipe allowed to protrude through a hole in 
the roof large enough to separate the pipe a safe distance 
from the wood and straw and amply protected by a piece 
of sheet iron or tin. Then, after you have stored your 
butin (luggage), you can sit and sing: 

You may pull the sourdine out 

You may push the rabat-joie in 

But the houcan goes up the cheminee just the same 

Just the same, just the same, 

But the boucan goes up the cheminee just the same. 

When 'Thabitant" hears you sing this verse he will 
not know what your song is about, but he will slap you 
on the back, laugh, and call you Bon Homme chez nous, 
but do not get mad at this; it is a compliment and not a 
bad name. 

Clay Roof 

A clay roof should be as flat as possible with only pitch 
enough to shed the water; a shingle roof should have a rise 
of at least one foot high to four feet wide and a thatched 

182 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

roof should have a rise of 45°, that is, the rise of a line 
drawn from corner to corner of a square. 

Fig. 247 shows a gable filled with upright logs and Fig. 
248 shows a tar paper roof and a gable covered with tar 

Since Kanucks are cold-climate houses, they frequently 
have novel means of keeping them warm; one way that 
I have frequently seen used is to surround them with a log 
fence shown in Fig. 249, and pack the space between with 
stable manure or dirt and rotten leaves. 



A POLE house is a log house with the logs set upright. 
We call it a pole house because, usually, the logs are smal- 
ler than those used for a log house. The pole house (Fig. 
250) is built in the manner shown by Figs. 171, 172, and 
173, but in the present instance the ridge-pole is a log 
which is allowed to extend some distance beyond the 
house both in front and rear, and the front end of the ridge- 
pole is carved in the shape of a grotesque or comical ani- 
mal's head like those we see on totem-poles. The roof is 
made of shakes (see Figs. 126 to 130) and the shakes are 
held in place by poles pegged onto the roof in much the 
same manner as we have described and called les peches for 
the Kanuck. This pole cabin may have an old-fashioned 
Dutch door which will add to its quaintness and may 
have but one room which will answer the many purposes 
of a living-room, sleeping-room, and dining-room. A 
lean-to at the back can be used for a kitchen. 

American Totem Log House 

But if you really want something unique, build a log 
house on the general plan shown by Figs. 251 and 252; 
then carve the ends of all the extending logs to represent 
the heads of reptiles, beasts, or birds; also carve the posts 
which support the end logs on the front gallery, porch, or 
veranda in the form of totem-poles. You may add further 


184 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

to the quaint effect by placing small totem-posts where 
your steps begin on the walk (Fig. 253) and adding a tall 
totem-pole (Fig. 255) for your family totem or the totem 
of your clan. Fig. 252 shows how to arrange and cut your 
logs for the pens. The dining-room is supposed to be be- 
hind the half partition next to the kitchen ; the other half 
of this room being open, with the front room, it makes a 
large living-room. The stairs lead up to the sleeping- 
rooms overhead ; the latter are made by dividing the space 
with partitions to suit your convenience. 

Before Building 

Take your jack-knife and a number of little sticks to 
represent the logs of your cabin; call an inch a foot or a 
half inch a foot as will suit your convenience and measure 
all the sticks on this scale, using inches or parts of inches 
for feet. Then sit down on the ground or on the floor 
and experiment in building a toy house or miniature 
model until you make one which is satisfactory. Next 
glue the little logs of the pen together; but make the roof 
so that it may be taken off and put on like the lid to a box; 
keep your model to use in place of an architect's drawing; 
the backwoods workmen will understand it better than 
they will a set of plans and sections on paper. Fig. 251 
is a very simple plan and only put here as a suggestion. 
You can put the kitchen at the back of the house instead 
of on one side of it or make any changes which suit your 
fancy; the pen of the house may be ten by twelve or twenty 
by thirty feet, a camp or a dwelling; the main point is to 
finish your house up with totems as shown by Fig. 253, 
and then tell the other fellows where you got the idea. 


186 Shelters y Shacks, and Shanties 

Peeled Logs 

For any structure which is intended to be permanent 
never use the logs with bark on them; use peeled logs. 
When your house is finished it may look very fresh and 
new without bark, but one season of exposure to the 
weather will tone it down so that it will be sufficiently 
rustic to please your fancy, but if you leave the bark on 
the logs, a few seasons will rot your house down, making it 
too rustic to suit any one's fancy. 

Lay up the pen of this house as already described and 
illustrated by Figs. 229, 233, etc., and when the sides 
and front walls have reached the desired height, frame 
your roof after the manner shown by Fig. 49 or any of the 
other methods described which may suit your fancy or 
convenience, but in this case we use the Susitna form for 
the end plates, which are made by first severing the root 
of a tree and leaving an elbow or bend at the end of the 
trunk (Fig. 264). This is flattened by scoring and hew- 
ing as is described and illustrated under the heading of 
the Susitna house. The elbows at the terminals of the 
end plate are carved to represent grotesque heads (Fig. 
253). The house when built is something like the Wyo- 
ming olebo (Fig. 236), but with the difference which will 
appear after careful inspection of the diagram. The 
Wyoming olebo is a one-story house; this is a two-story 
house. The Wyoming olebo has a roof built upon a mod- 
ified plan of a Kanuck; this roof is built on the American 
log-cabin plan, with the logs continued up to the top of 
the gable, as are those in the Olympic (Fig. 240). But the 
present house is supposed to be very carefully built; to be 
sure, it is made of rude material but handled in a very neat 
and workmanlike manner. Great care must be used in 
notching and joining the logs, and only the straightest logs 
which can be had should be used for the walls of the 

Pole and Totevi Houses 187 

house. The piazza may need some additional supports 
if there is a wide front to the house, but with a narrow 
front half, log puncheons will be sufficiently stiff to sup- 
port themselves. 


The most difficult part about these descriptions, for 
the writer, is where he attempts to tell you how to make 
your totems; but remember that a totem, in order to have 
a real totem look, must be very crude and amateurish, a 
quality that the reader should be able to give it without 
much instruction. The next important thing is that 
when you make one side of a head, be it a snake's, a man's, 
a beast's, or a bird's, make the other side like it. Do not 
make the head lopsided; make both sides of the same pro- 
portions. Flatten the sides of the end of the log enough 
to give you a smooth surface, then sketch the profile on 
each side of the log with charcoal or chalk, carve out the 
head with a chisel, drawing-knife, and jack-knife, and 
gouge until you have fashioned it into the shape desired. 
In order to do this the end of the log should be free from 
the ground and a convenient distance above it. The carv- 
ing is best done after the house is practically finished; 
but the two end plates had better be carved before they 
are hoisted into place. 


When you carve out the totem-poles (Fig. 256 or 262), 
the log had better be put on an elongated sawbuck ar- 
rangement which will hold it free from the ground and 
allow one to turn it over as the work may require. Fig. 
259 represents a peeled log. On this log one may sketch, 
with chalk, the various figures here represented, then 
begin by notching the log (Fig. 258) according to the 

188 Shelters^ Shacks, and Shanties 

notches which are necessary to carve out the totem. 
Figs. 260, 261, and 262 show different views of the same 
totem figures. Fig. 257 shows how to make a variation 
of the totem-pole. Paint your totem heads and figures 
red, blue, and yellow, and to suit your fancy; the more 
startling they are the better will they imitate the Indian 
totems. The weather will eventually tone them down 
to the harmonious colors of a Turkish rug. 

In "The Boy Pioneers" I have told how to make va- 
rious other forms of totems, all of which have since been 
built by boys and men in different parts of the country. 
Mr. Stewart Edward White, a member of the Camp-Fire 
Club of America, woodsman, plainsman, mountaineer, 
and African hunter and explorer, built himself a totem in 
the form of a huge bird twelve feet high from the plans 
published in "The Boy Pioneers," and I anticipate no 
great difficulty will be encountered by those who try to 
totemize a log cabin after the manner shown by Fig. 258. 
It will not, however, be a small boy's work, but the small 
boys who started at the beginning of this book are older 
and more experienced now, and, even if they cannot 
handle the big logs themselves, they are perfectly com- 
petent to teach their daddies and uncles and their big 
brothers how to do it, so they may act as boss builders 
and architects and let the older men do the heavy work. 
But however you proceed to build this house, when it is 
finished you will have a typically native building, and at 
the same time different from all others, as quaint as any 
bungling bungalow, and in better taste, because it will fit 
in the landscape and become part of it and look as if it 
belonged there, in place of appearing as if it had been blown 
by a tornado from some box factory and deposited in an 
unsuitable landscape. 

You must understand by this that unsuitable refers 
to the fact that a bungalow does not belong in the Ameri- 

190 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

can landscape, although many of the cottages and shacks, 
miscalled bungalows, may be thoroughly American and 
appropriate to the American surroundings despite the ex- 
otic name by which some people humble them. 



Standing on a hill overlooking the salt meadows at 
Hunter's Point, L. I., there was an old farmhouse the 
roof of which projected over both sides of the house four 
or five feet. The hill on which it stood has been cut 
away, the meadows which it overlooked have been filled 
up with the dirt from the hill, and only a surveyor with 
his transit and the old property-lines map before him could 
ever find the former location of this house, but it is some- 
where among the tracks of the Long Island Railroad. 

Opposite the house, on the other side of the railroad 
track, in the section known as Dutch Kills of Long Island 
City, two other houses of the same style of architecture 
stood; they had double doors — that is, doors which were 
cut in two half-way up so that you might open the top or 
bottom half or both halves to suit your fancy. The upper 
panels of these doors had two drop-lights of glass set in 
on the bias, and between them, half-way down the upper 
half, was a great brass knocker with a grip big enough to 
accommodate both hands in case you really wanted to 
make a noise. 

There was another house of this same description in the 
outskirts of Hoboken, and I often wondered what the 
origin of that peculiar roof might be. I found this type 
of house as far north toward the Hudson Bay as the set- 
tlements go, and still farther north the Susitna house 
explains the origin of the overhanging eaves (Fig. 268). 


192 Shelters^ Shacks, and Shanties 

Of course the Susitna, as here drawn, is not exactly the 
same as that built by the natives on the Susitna River, 
but the end plates (Fig. 263) are the same as those used 
in the primitive houses of the Northwest. 

How to Cut the Tree 

Fig. 264 shows a standing fir- tree and also shows what 
cuts to make in order to get the right-shaped log for an 
end plate. Fig. 265 shows the method of scoring and 
hewing necessary in order to flatten the end of the log 
as it is in Fig. 266. Fig. 267 shows the style in which 
the natives roof their Susitnas with logs. The elbows at 
the end of the plates (Fig. 266) serve to keep the logs of 
the roof (Fig. 267) from rolling off, but the Susitna log 
cabin which we are building is expected to have a roof 
(Fig. 268) of thatch or a roof of shingles, because we have 
passed the rude shacks, sheds, and shelters used for camps 
and are now building real houses in which we may live. 
The Susitna may be built of round logs or of flattened 
logs (le carreage), in which case we can use the General 
Putnam square notch (Fig. 263) for joining the ends of 
our logs. In raising the roof, erect the ridge-pole first. 
The ridge-pole may be set up on two uprights to which 
it is temporarily nailed, and the upright props may be 
held in place by the two diagonal props or braces, as 
shown in Fig. 263. If the logs are squared, cut a small 
bird's-mouth notch in the rafter where it extends over 
the side-plate logs of the pen and bevel the top end of your 
gable rafters to fit against the ridge-pole as in the dia- 
grams. The other rafters are now easily put in place, 
but if the logs are round you must notch the rafters and 
side-plates as shown by the diagram between Figs. 263 
and 267; the dotted lines show where the rafter and the 
logs come together. Nail your rafters to your ridge-pole 

194 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

and fasten them to the side-plate with wooden pegs or 
spikes. The ridge-pole may be allowed to extend, as in 
Fig. 268, on each side of the cabin or the elbows (Fig. 266) 
may be attached to each end of the ridge-pole with noses 
turned up and painted or carved into a fanciful head as 
in Fig. 268. If the roof is to be shingled, collect a lot of 
poles about four inches in diameter, flatten them on both 
sides, and nail them to the rafters not more than two 
inches apart, allowing the ends of the sticks to extend 
beyond the walls of the house at least six inches. 

If you desire to make your own shingles, saw up a hem- 
lock, pine, or spruce log into billets of one foot four inches 
long, then with a froe and a mall (Fig. 179) split the 
shingles from the billets of wood, or use a broadaxe for 
the same purpose. Broadaxes are dangerous weapons 
in the hands of an amateur, but the writer split shingles 
with a broadaxe upon the shores of Lake Erie when he 
was but seven years old and, as near as he can count, 
he still has ten toes and ten fingers. If you intend to 
thatch the roof you need not flatten the poles which you 
fasten across the rafters, because the thatch will hide all 
unevenness of the underpinning. The poles may be laid 
at right angles to the rafters between six and eight inches 
apart and the roof thatched as described and illustrated 
by Fig. 66. The Susitna form of house is the one from 
w^hich the old Long Island farmhouses were evolved, 
although the old Long Islanders copied theirs from the 
homes they left in Holland, but we must remember that 
even the effete civilization of Europe once had a back- 
woods country a long, long time ago, and then they built 
their houses from the timbers hewn in the forests as our 
own ancestors did in this country; consequently, many 
of the characteristics of present-day houses which seem 
to us useless and unnecessary are survivals of the nec- 
essary characteristics of houses made of crude material. 



Fig, 269 shows a simple form of fireplace which is 
practically the granddaddy of all the other fireplaces. It 
consists of three walls for windbreaks, laid up in stone 
or sod against some stakes driven in the ground for the 
purpose of supporting them. The four-cornered stakes 
are notched or forked and small logs are laid horizontally 
in these forks and on top of this a pyramidal form of a log 
pen is built of small logs and billets, and this answers the 
purpose of a chimney. This style of fireplace is adapted 
to use in camps and rude shacks like those shown by 
Figs. 187, 189, 191, and 192; also for the most primitive 
log cabins, but when we make a real log house we usually 
plan to have a more elaborate or more finished fireplace 
and chimney. The ground-plan of Fig. 269 is shown by 
Fig. 270. 

Mud Hearth 

Here you see there is a mud hearth, a wall of clay 
plastered over the stones of the fireplace. This will pre- 
vent the fire from cracking and chipping the stones, but 
clay is not absolutely necessary in this fireplace. When, 
however, you build the walls of your fireplace of logs 
and your chimney of sticks the clay is necessary to pre- 
vent the fire from igniting the woodwork and consuming 


196 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

it. For a log-framed fireplace, make a large opening in 
the wall of your house and against the ends of the logs 
where you sawed out the opening, erect jamb pieces of 
planks two or three inches thick running up to the log 
over the fireplace and spiked to the round ends of the logs 
(see plan, Fig. 272). Next, lay your foundation of sill 
logs on the fireplace, first two side logs and then a back 
log, neatly notched so as to look like the logs in the walls 
of the cabin. Build your fireplace walls as shown by 
Fig. 271, after which take your mud or clay and make 
the hearth by hammering the clay down hard until you 
have a firm, smooth foundation. The front hearth may 
be made, as shown in the diagram, of stones of any size 
from pebbles to flagstones, with the surfaces levelled by 
sinking the under-part down into the clay until a uni- 
form level is reached on top. The fireplace may be built 
with bricks of moist clay and wet clay used for mortar. 
Make the clay walls of the fireplace at least one foot thick 
and pack it down hard and tight as you build it. If you 
choose you may make a temporary inside wall of plank 
as they do when they make cement walls, and then be- 
tween the temporary board wall and the logs put in your 
moist clay and ram it down hard until the top of the 
fireplace is reached, after which the boards may be re- 
moved and the inside of the fireplace smoothed off by 
wiping it with a wet cloth. 

Stick Chimney 

After the walls of logs and clay are built to top of the 
fireplace proper, split some sticks and make them about 
one inch wide by one and one half inch thick, or use the 
round sticks in the form in which they grow, but peel off 
the bark to render them less combustible; then lay them 
up as shown by Fig. 261, log-cabin style. With the chim- 

198 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

ney we have four sides to the wall in place of three sides 
as in the fireplace. The logs of the fireplace, where they 
run next to the cabin, may have to be chinked up so as 
to keep them level, but the chimney should be built level 
as it has four sides to balance it. Leave a space between 
the chimney and the outside wall and plaster the sticks 
thickly with clay upon the outside and much thicker with 
clay upon the inside, as shown by Fig. 271 A, which is 
supposed to be a section of the chimney. 


All through the mountains of East Tennessee and Ken- 
tucky I have seen these stick chimneys, some of them 
many, many years old. In these mountain countries the 
fireplaces are lined with stones, but in Illinois, in the 
olden times, stones were scarce and mud was plenty and 
the fireplaces were made like those just described and 
illustrated by Fig. 272. 

The stone chimney is an advance and improvement 
upon the log chimney, but I doubt if it requires any more 
skill to build. 

Chimney Foundation 

Dig your foundation for your fireplace and chimney 
at least three feet deep; then fill the hole up with small 
cobblestones or broken bluestone until you have reached 
nearly the level of the ground; upon this you can begin 
to lay your hearth and chimney foundation. If you fail 
to dig this foundation the frost will work the ground 
under your chimney and the chimney will work with the 
ground, causing it either to upset or to tilt to one side 
or the other and spoil the looks of your house, even if it 
does not put your fireplace out of commission. . ._ . 

A Fireplace and Chimney 199 

Stone Chimney 

In laying up the stones for your chimney, remember 
that it makes no difference how rough and uneven it is 
upon the outside. The more uneven the outside is the 
more picturesque it will appear, but the smoother and 
more even the inside is the less will it collect soot and the 
less will be the danger of chimney fires. Lay your stones 
in mortar or cement. See that each stone fits firmly in the 
bed and does not rock and that it breaks joints with the 
other stone below it. By breaking joints I mean that 
the crack between the two stones on the upper tier should 
fit over the middle of the stone on the lower tier; this, 
with- the aid of the cement, locks the stones and prevents 
any accidental cracks which may open from extending 
any further than the two stones between which it started. 
If, however, you do not break joints, a crack might run 
from the top to the bottom of the chimney causing it to 
fall apart. Above the fireplace make four walls to your 
chimney, as you did with your stick chimney (Fig. 271), 
and let the top of the chimney extend above the roof at 
least three feet; this will not only help the draught but it 
will also lessen the danger of fire. 


In erecting the fireplace for your cabin the stone work 
should extend into the cabin itself, thus protecting the 
ends of the logs from the fire. The stone over the top of 
the fireplace (.4, B, Fig. 274) rests upon two iron bars; 
these iron bars are necessary for safety because, although 
the stone A, B may bridge the fireplace successfully, the 
settling of the chimney or the heat of the fire is liable to 
crack the stone, in which case, unless it is supported by 
two flat iron bars, it will fall down and wreck your fire- 
place. The stone A, B in Fig. 275, has been cracked for 
fifteen years but, as it rests upon the flat iron bars be- 
neath, the crack does no harm. 

In Fig. 274 (the ends of the fireplace) the two wing 
walls of it are built up inside the cabin to support a plank 
for a mantelpiece. Another plank C, D is nailed under 
the mantelpiece against the log before the stone work is 
built up. This is only for the purpose of giving a finish 
to your mantelpiece. The hearth in Fig. 274 is made of 
odd bits of flat stones laid in cement, but the hearth in 
Fig. 275 is one big slab of bluestone just as it came from 
the quarry, and the fireplace in Fig. 275 is lined with fire- 
brick. The two three-legged stools which you see on each 
side were made by the woodsmen who built the cabin to 
use in their camp while the cabin was being erected. 
The stools have occupied the position of honor on each 
side of the fireplace now for twenty-seven years. The 



202 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

mantelpiece in this drawing is made of puncheons with 
the rounded side out on the two supports and the flat 
side against the wall; of course, for the mantel itself, the 
rounded side must be down and the flat side up. This 
fireplace has been used for cooking purposes and the crane 
is still hanging over the flames, while up over the mantel 
you may see, roughly indicated, a wTought-iron broiler, a 
toaster, and a brazier. The flat shovel hanging to the 
left of the fireplace is w^hat is known as a "peal," used 
in olden times to slip under the pies or cakes in the old- 
fashioned ovens in order to remove them without burn- 
ing one's fingers. 


Sometimes it is desired to have a fireplace in the mid- 
dle of the room. Personally, such a fireplace does not 
appeal to me, but there are other people who like the 
novelty of such a fireplace, and Fig. 276 shows one con- 
structed of rough stones. The fireplace is high so that one 
tending it does not have to stoop and get a backache. 
The foundation should be built in the ground underneath 
the cabin and up through the floor. A flat stone covers 
the top of the fireplace, as in the other drawings. Fig. 
277 shows a fireplace with a puncheon support for a plank 

A Plank Mantel 

A and B are two half logs, or puncheons, which run 
from the floor to the ceiling on each side of the fireplace. 
S, S, S are the logs of the cabin walls. C is the puncheon 
supporting the mantel and D is the mantel. Fig. 279 
shows a section or a view of the mantel looking down on 
it from the top, a topographical view of it. Fig. 278 is 
the same sort of a view showing the puncheon A at the 
other end of the mantel before the mantel is put in place 
between the two puncheons A and B. In Fig. 279 the 
reader may see that it will be necessary to cut the corners 
out of the mantel-board in order to fit it around the 
puncheons A and B; also, since A and B have rounded 


More Hearths and Fireplaces 205 

surfaces, it will be necessary to so bevel the ends of the 
puncheon (C, Fig. 277) that they will fit on the rounded 
surfaces of A and B. Fig. 280 shows the end of C bev- 
elled in a perspective view, and also a profile view of it, 
with the puncheon A indicating the manner in which C 
must be cut to fit upon the rounded surface. This makes 
a simple mantelpiece but a very appropriate one for a log 


One of my readers has written to me asking what to 
do about a fireplace that smokes. Not knowing the fire- 
place in question, I cannot prescribe for that particular 
invalid, but I have a long acquaintance with many fire- 
places that smoke and fireplaces that do not — in other 
w^ords, healthy fireplaces with a good digestion and dis- 
eased fireplaces functionally wrong with poor digestion — 
so perhaps the easiest w^ay to answer these questions is 
to describe a few of my acquaintances among the fire- 
places which I have studied. 

There is an old fireplace in Small Acres, Binghamton, 
N. Y., of which I made sketches and took measurements 
which furnished me data by which I built the fireplaces 
in my ow^n houses. 

In Binghamton fireplaces the side walls are on an an- 
gle and converge toward the back of the fireplace, as in 
Fig. 274. The back also pitches forward, as in Fig. 2S2. 
The great advantage of this is the reflecting of more heat 
into the room. 

Fig. 281 shows the fireplace before which I am now 
working. The fire was started in last November and is 
now (April i) still burning, although it has not been re- 
kindled since it was first lighted. This fireplace is well 
constructed, and on very cold days I have the fire burn- 
ing out on the hearth fully a foot beyond the line of the 
mantel without any smoke coming into my studio. 

Fig. 282 shows a diagram with the dimensions of my 


The Art of Tending the Fire 207 

studio fireplace and represents the vertical section of it. 
I give these for the benefit of the people who want to 
know how to build a fireplace which will not smoke. But, 
of course, even the best of fireplaces will smoke if the 
fire is not properly arranged. With smoke the angle of 
reflection would be equal to the angle of incidence did 
not the constant tendency of smoke to ascend modify 
this rule. 

Throw a rubber ball against the wall and the direc- 
tion from your hand to where it strikes the wall makes 
the angle of incidence; when the ball bounces aw^ay from 
the wall it makes the angle of reflection. 

Management of the Fire 

But, before we enter into the question regarding the 
structure of the flue we will take up the management of 
the fire itself. In the first place, there is but one person 
who can manage a fire, and that is yourself. Servants 
never did and never wdll learn the art, and, as I am writ- 
ing for men, and the ladies are not supposed to read 
this article, I will state that the fair sex show a like defi- 
ciency in this line. The first thing a w^oman wants to do 
with a fire is to make the logs roost on the andirons, the 
next thing is to remove every speck of ashes from the 
hearth, and then she wonders why the fire won't burn. 

The ashes have not been removed from my studio fire 
since it was first lighted last fall. Ashes are absolutely 
essential to control a wood-fire and to keep the embers 
burning overnight. Fig. 288 shows the present state of 
the ashes in my studio fire. You will see by this dia- 
gram that the logs are not resting on the andirons. I 
only use the andirons as a safeguard to keep the logs 
from rolling out on the hearth. If the fire has been 
replenished late in the evening with a fresh log, before 

208 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

retiring I pull the front or the ornamental parts of the 
andirons to the hearth and then lay the shovel and 
poker across them horizontally. When the burning log 
is covered with ashes and the andirons arranged in this 
manner you can retire at night with a feeling of security 
and the knowledge that if your house catches afire it will 
not be caused by the embers in your fireplace. Then in 
the morning all you have to do is to shovel out the ashes 
from the rear of the fireplace, put in a new backlog, and bed 
it in with ashes, as shown in Fig. 286. Put your glowing 
embers next to the backlog and your fresh wood on top 
of that and sit down to your breakfast with the certainty 
that your fire will be blazing before you get up from the 

Don't make the mistake of poking a wood-fire, with 
the idea, by that means, of making it burn more briskly, 
or boosting up the logs to get a draught under them. 

Two logs placed edge to edge, like those in Fig. 288, 
with hot coals between them, will make their own 
draught, which comes in at each end of the log, and, what 
is essential in fire building, they keep the heat between 
themselves, constantly increasing it by reflecting it back 
from one to the other. If you happen to be in great 
haste to make the flames start, don't disturb the logs but 
use a pair of bellows. 

Fig. 287 shows a set of the logs which will make 
the best-constructed fireplace smoke. The arrow-point 
shows the line of incidence or the natural direction which 
the smoke would take did not the heat carry it upward. 

Fig. 285 shows the same logs arranged so that the an- 
gle of incidence strikes the back of the chimney and the 
smoke ascends in the full and orderly manner. But both 
Figs. 285 and 287 are clumsily arranged. The B logs in 
each case should be the backlog and the small logs A 
and C should be in front of B, 


210 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

In all of the fireplaces which we have described you 
will note that the top front of the fireplace under the 
mantel extends down several inches below the angle of 
the chimney. 

Fig. 283 shows a fireplace that is improperly built. 
This is from a fireplace in a palatial residence in New 
York City, enclosed in an antique Italian marble mantel, 
yellow with age, which cost a small fortune. The fire- 
place was designed and built by a firm of the best archi- 
tects, composed of men famed throughout the whole of 
the United States and Europe, but the fireplace smoked 
because the angle of the chimney was below the opening 
of the fireplace and, consequently, sent the smoke out 
into the room. This had to be remedied by setting a 
piece of thick plate glass over the top of the fireplace, 
thus making the opening smaller and extending it below 
the angle of the chimney. 

Fig. 284 shows the most primitive form of fireplace 
and chimney. One that a child may see will smoke 
unless the fire is kept in the extreme back of the hearth. 

The advantages of ashes in your fireplace are manifold. 
They retain the heat, keep the hot coals glowing overnight, 
and when the fire is too hot may be used to cover the 
logs and subdue the heat. But, of course, if you want 
a clean hearthstone and the logs roosting upon the and- 
irons, and are devoid of all the camp-fire sentiment, have 
some asbestos gas-logs. There will be no dust or dirt, no 
covering up at night with ashes, no bill for cord- wood, 
and it will look as stiff and prim as any New England 
old maid and be as devoid of sentiment and art as a 
department-store bargain picture frame. 



How a Forty-Foot-Front, Two-Story Pioneer Log House 
Was Put Up with the Help of "Backwoods Farmers" 
— Making Plans with a Pocket Knife. 

Our log house on the shore of Big Tink Pond, Pike 
County, Pa., was built long before the general public 
had been educated to enjoy the subtle charms of wild 
nature, at a time when nature-study was confined to scien- 
tists and children, and long before it was fashionable to 
have wild fowl on one's lawn and wild flowers in one's 
garden. At that time only a few unconventional souls 
spent their vacations out of sight of summer hotels, 
camping on the mountain or forest trails. The present 
state of the public mind in regard to outdoor life has 
only been developed within the last few years, and when 
I first announced my intention of hunting up some ac- 
cessible wild corner and there erecting a log house for a 
summer studio and home I found only unsympathetic 
listeners. But I was young and rash at that time, and 
without any previous experience in building or the aid 
of books to guide me and with only such help as I could 
find among backwoods farmers I built a forty-foot-front, 
two-story log house that is probably the pioneer among 
log houses erected by city men for summer homes. It 
gave Mr. Charles Wingate the suggestions from which he 
evolved Twilight Park in the Catskills. Twilight Park, 


212 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

being the resort of literary people and their friends, did 
much to popularize log houses with city people. 

The deserted farms of New England offer charming 
possibilities for those whose taste is for nature with a 
shave, hair cut, and store clothes, but for lovers of un- 
tamed nature the waste lands offer stronger inducements 
for summer- vacation days, and there is no building which 
fits so naturally in a wuld landscape as a good, old-fash- 
ioned log cabin. It looks as if it really belonged there 
and not like a windfall from some passing whirlwind. 

When I make the claim that any ordinary man can 
build himself a summer home, I do not mean to say 
that he wdll not make blunders and plenty of them; 
only fools never make mistakes, wise men profit by 
them, and the reader may profit by mine, for there is no 
lack of them in our log house at Big Tink. But the house 
still stands on the bank overlooking the lake and is prac- 
tically as sound as it was when the last spike was driven, 
twenty-seven years ago. 

Almost all of the original log cabins that were once 
sprinkled through the eastern part of our country dis- 
appeared with the advent of the saw-mill, and the few 
which still exist in the northern part of the country east 
of the Alleghany Mountains would not be recognized as 
log houses by the casual observer, for the picturesque log 
exteriors have been concealed by a covering of clap- 

To my surprise I discovered that even among the old 
mountaineers I could find none who had ever attended a 
log-rolling frolic or participated in the erection of a real 
log house. Most of these old fellows, however, could 
remember living in such houses in their youth, but they 
could not understand why any sane man of to-day wanted 
''to waste so much good lumber," and in the quaint old 
American dialect still preserved in these regions they 



214 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

explained the wastefulness of my plans and pointed out 
to me the number of good planks which might be sawed 
from each log. 

Fig. 290, B, shows the plans of the house, which mil be 
seen to be a modification of the Southern "saddle-bag" 
cabin — two houses under one roof. By referring to Fig. 
289 it will be seen that above the gallery there is a portico, 
which we called the "afterthought" because it did not 
appear upon the original plans. We got the hint, as 
"Jimmy" called it, when it was noticed that chance had 
ordained that the two "^1" logs should protrude much 
farther than the others. "Don't saw them off," I ex- 
claimed; "we will have a balcony "; and so the two " yl " 
logs were left, and this gave us room for a balcony over 
the gallery, back of which is a ten-by-ten bedroom, while 
the two large bedrooms on each side have doors opening 
on the six-foot passageway, which is made still broader 
by the addition of the balcony. 

It will be seen that there is a stairway marked out on 
the ground plan, but there was none on the original plan, 
for, to tell the honest truth, I did not know where to put 
the stairs until the logs were in place. However, it is 
just such problems that lend charm to the work of build- 
ing your own house. An architect or a professional 
builder would have the thing all cut and dried before- 
hand and leave nothing to chance and inspiration; this 
takes the whole charm out of the work when one is build- 
ing for recreation and the pleasure to be derived from the 

When our house was finished we had no shutters to the 
windows and no way of closing up the open ends of the 
gallery, and my helpers told me that I must not leave 
the house that way because stray cattle would use the 
house for a stable and break the windows with their horns 
as they swung their heads to drive away the flies. So we 

216 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

nailed boards over these openings when we closed the 
house for the winter. Later we invented some shutters 
(see C, Fig. 290) which can be put up with little trouble 
and in a few moments. Fig. 290, C, shows how these 
shutters are put in place and locked on the inside by 
a movable sill that is slid up against the bottom of the 
shutters and fastened in place by iron pins let into holes 
bored for the purpose. 

Of course, this forms no bar to a professional burglar, 
but there is nothing inside to tempt cracksmen, and 
these professional men seldom stray into the woods. 
The shutters serve to keep out cattle, small boys, and 
stray fishermen whose idle curiosity might tempt them 
to meddle with the contents of a house less securely 

A house is never really finished until one loses inter- 
est in it and stops tinkering and planning homely im- 
provements. This sort of work is a healthy, wholesome 
occupation and just the kind necessary to people of 
sedentary occupations or those w^hose misfortune it is to 
be engaged in some of the nervx-racking business peculiar 
to life in big cities. 

Dwellers in our big cities do not seem to realize that 
there is any other life possible for them than a continuous 
nightmare existence amid monstrous buildings, noisy 
traffic, and the tainted air of unsanitary streets. They 
seem to have forgotten that the same sun that in summer 
scorches the towering masonry and paved sidewalks until 
the canyon-like streets become unbearable also shines 
on green woods, tumbling waters, and mirror-like lakes; 
or, if they are dimly conscious of this fact, they think 
such places are so far distant as to be practically out of 
their reach in every sense. Yet in reality the wilderness 
is almost knocking at our doors, for within one hundred 
miles of New York bears, spotted wildcats, and timid 

The Building of the Log House 217 

deer live unconfined in their primitive wild condition. 
Fish caught in the streams can be cooked for dinner in 
New York the same day. 

In 1887, when the writer was himself a bachelor, he 
went out into the wilderness on the shores of Big Tink 
Pond, upon which he built the log house shown in the 
sketch. At first he kept bachelor hall there with some 
choice spirits, not the kind you find in bottles on the bar- 
room shelf, but the human kind who love the outdoor world 
and nature, or he took his parents and near relatives with 
him for a vacation in the woods. Like all sensible men, 
in course of time he married, and then he took his bride 
out to the cabin in the woods. At length the time came 
when he found it necessary to shoulder his axe and go 
to the woods to secure material for a new piece of furniture. 
He cut the young chestnut-trees, peeled them, and with 
them constructed a crib; and every year for the last eight 
years that crib has been occupied part of the season. 
Thus, you see, a camp of this kind becomes hallowed with 
the most sacred of human memories and becomes a joy 
not only to the builder thereof but also to the coming 
generation. At the big, open fire in the grill-room, with 
the old-fashioned cooking utensils gathered from farm- 
houses on Long Island, I have cooked venison steaks, 
tenderloin of the great northern hare, the plump, white 
breasts of the ruffed grouse, all broiled over the hot coals 
with slices of bacon, and when done to a turn, placed in a 
big platter with fresh butter and served to a crowd who 
watched the operation and sniffed the delicious odor until 
they literally drooled at the corners of their mouths. As 
the house was built on a deer runway, all these things 
were products of the surrounding country, and on sev- 
eral occasions they have all been served at one meal. 




Preparing the Roofing for Laying 

Birch bark and patent roofing are more pliable than 
tin or shingles, consequently taking less time to lay and 
making it easier work. In very cold weather put your 
patent roofing in a warm room a few hours before using 
it. Never try to cut birch bark, tar paper, or patent 
roofing: with a dull knife. 


Roofing Foundation 

No matter what sort of roofing material is used, do 
not forget the great importance of the roofing foundation 
(Figs. 296 and 298). If the foundation is poor or uneven 
the roofing will be poor and uneven, even if only the best 
roofing material is used. The sheathing boards should be 
matched if possible and of uniform thickness, laid close, 
and free from nails, protruding knots, and sharp edges. 
Do not use green lumber; the sun is almost certain to 
shrink and warp it. Sometimes it will even break the 
roofing material. On very particular work, where the 
rafters are wide apart, the best builders recommend lay- 
ing a course of boards over the planking at right angles 
to it. 


Tar Paper, Birch Bark, or Patent Roofing 219 


If there are valleys in the roof (Fig. 298) use a long 
strip of roofing and lay it up and down in the direction 
of the valleys. Press the strip into the hollow so that it 
takes the shape of the valley itself. Allow the edges of 
the roofing to overlap the strip in the valley an equal 
distance on both sides of the valley (Fig. 298). 

How to Lay the Roofing 

Begin at the eaves to lay the roofing (Fig. 299). Al- 
ways lay the roll of patent roofing with the inside surface 
to the weather and in the same direction that the boards 
run — not at right angles to them. Begin nailing at the 
centre of the edges of the strips and work both ways to 
the ends — never the reverse, as the roofing may become 
wrinkled, twisted, or crooked. Always set caps even with 
the edge of the laps about two inches apart between their 


To finish gutters, fasten and carefully cement with the 
pitch or tar or prepared composition the edge of the 
strip about half-way to the gutter. Bring the other edge 
onto the roof, then lay the next strip over this strip so 
that it will overlap at least two inches. Proceed to lay 
the balance of the roofing in the same way. Never nail 
the middle of the strips; nail only along the edges. The 
end strips should always be lapped over the edges of the 
roof and fastened (Figs. 297 and 299). 

Before fastening laps paint a two-inch strip with the 
tar or pitch cement which comes with all patent roofing 
in order to stick it to the lower strip of roofing and to 
make a tight joint when put in place. 

220 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

Do not drive nails carelessly or with too much force 
and be sure the cap fits snugly against the roofing. If 
nails go into holes or open cracks, do not remove them 
but thoroughly cement around them. Allow six inches 
for overlaps for joints where one strip joins another (Fig. 
2gg, B). Be sure that two strips of roofing never meet 
at the ridge lea\ang a joint to invite a leak over the 
ridge-pole. Examine the diagrams if you fail to under- 
stand the description. 

How to Patch a Shingle Roof 

The reader must not suppose that the roof of my camp 
was made of flannel because it shrank, for the whole 
house, which was made of logs, diminished in size as the 
wood became seasoned; so that now each log averages 
a quarter of an inch less in width than it did when the 
house was built twenty odd years ago. There are just 
one hundred logs in the house, which makes the house 
twenty-five inches smaller than it was when it was 
built, but I cannot point out the exact spot where the 
two feet and one inch are missing. Neither do I know 
that this had anything to do with the opening in the 
roof about the chimney; but I do know that the opening 
gradually became wider and wider until it not only ad- 
mitted the entrance of numerous flying squirrels and other 
varmints but also let in the rain and snow and conse- 
quently it had to be remedied. Neither the fl)^ng squir- 
rels nor the elements can now enter at that point. 

The Connecticut Yankees stop the leaks around the big 
chimneys of the old farmhouses with mortar or concrete, 
but at permanent camps cement is not always handy, and 
even if one is living in a farmhouse it will probably ne- 
cessitate quite a long drive to procure it. If, however, 
there happens to be on hand some strips of the various 

222 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

tar roofing compounds, some old tin, or even a good piece 
of oilcloth — by which I mean a piece that may be so worn 
as to have been cast aside and yet not so perforated with 
holes that it will admit the rain — it may be used to stop 
the leak. 

Fixtures for Applying Roofing 

The complete roofing kit consists of cement, caps, and 
nails. The galvanized caps and nails are the best to 
use; they won't rust. Square caps have more binding 
surface than the ordinary round ones; but we can mend 
*'wdth any old thing." 

Fig. 291 shows a chimney from which the roof of the 
house is parted, leaving a good-sized opening around the 
smoke-stack. To cover this, take a piece of roofing com- 
pound, tin, oilcloth, tar paper, or paroid and cut as is 
shown in the upper diagram (Fig. 292). Make the slits 
in the two ends of the material of such a length that when 
the upper ends are bent back, as in the lower diagram 
(Fig. 292), they will fit snugly around the chimney. You 
will need one piece like this for each side of the chimney. 
Where the ends of the chimney butt against the ridge of 
the roof you will require pieces slit in the same manner 
as the first but hent diferently. The upper lobe in this 
case is bent on the bias to fit the chimney, while the 
lower one is bent over the ridge of the roof (Figs. 293 
and 294). 

To better illustrate how this is done, Fig. 293 is sup- 
posed to show the chimney with the roof removed. Fig. 
294 is the same view of the chimney with the two pieces 
in place. You will need four pieces, two at each end of 
the chimney, to cover the ridge of the roof. 

With all the many varieties of tar paper and composi- 
tion roofing there come tacks or wire nails supplied with 
round tin disks perforated in the centre, which are used 

Tar Payer, Birch Bark, or Patent Roofing 223 

as washers to prevent the nail from pulling through the 

Fig. 295 shows the chimney with the patches around 
it tacked in place, and the protruding ends of the parts 
trimmed off according to the dotted lines. Fig. 297 
shows the way the roofing people put flashing on; but I 
like my own way, as illustrated by Figs. 291, 292, 293, 
294, and 295. It must not be taken for granted that 
every cam.p or farmhouse has a supply of tin washers, 
but we know that every camp and farmhouse does have 
a supply of tin cans, and the washers may be made from 
these, as shown by Figs. 300 and 301. Knock the cans 
apart at their seams and cut the tin up into pieces like 
the rectangular one shown under the hand in Fig. 301. 
Bend these pieces in their centres so as to make them into 
squares, then place them on a piece of soft wood and 
punch holes in them by driving a wire nail through the 
tin and you will have better washers than those you can 
buy although they may not be so handsome. 

Patched Roofs and New Shingles 

Any decent shingled roof should last fifteen years with- 
out repairing and many of them last nearly twice that 
time. But there comes a time when the roof begins to 
leak and needs mending; when that time comes, with 
your jack-knife whittle a number of little wooden pegs 
or splints each about six inches long and a little thicker 
than a pipe-stem with which to 

Mark the Holes 

Go up in the attic and wherever you see daylight 
through the roof push through the hole a wooden peg 
to mark the spot. Then, when you have finished and are 

224 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

ready to climb on the roof, take off your shoes, put on a 
pair of woollen socks, and there will be little danger of 
your slipping. New india rubber shoes with corrugated 
soles are also good to wear w^hen cUmbing on the roof. 

In Fig. 295^ you will see two of the pegs sticking 
through the roof marking the holes, and below is a larger 
view of one of these pegs connected with the upper ones 
by dotted lines. 

Sheet-Iron Shingles 

To mend simple cracks or holes like these it is only 
necessary to bend up bits of tin or sheet iron (Fig. 300) 
and drive the metal shingle up underneath the shingle 
a^ove the hole so that the "weather" part of the tin 
covers the leak, or drive it under the leaking shingle 
itself, or drive a new shingle up under or over the dam- 
aged one. Where there is a bad place in the roof it may 
be necessary to make a patch of a number of shingles 
like the one shown in the right-hand corner of Fig. 295 J^, 
but even then it is not necessary to remove the old shingles 
unless the hole is very large. 

These patches of old tin or new shingles do not look 
handsome on an old roof, but they serve their purpose in 
keeping out the rain and snow and preventing moisture 
from rotting the timbers. The weather will soon tone 
down the color of the new shingles so that they will not 
be noticeable and you will have the satisfaction of hav- 
ing a dry roof over your head. There is only one thing 
worse than a leaky roof and that is a leaky boat. 

Practical Patching 

In these days when everybody with a few hundred 
dollars in pocket is very sensibly using it to buy a farm 
and farmhouse so as to be able for a part of the year to 

226 Shelters^ Shacks, and Shanties 

return to the simple life of our ancestors it is very neces- 
sary that we should also know something of the simple 
economies of those days, for when one finds oneself out 
on a farm there is no plumber around the corner and no 
tinsmith on the next block whom one may call upon to 
repair breaks and the damage done by time and weather 
on an old farmhouse. The ordinary man under these 
conditions is helpless, but some are inspired by novel 
ideas, as, for instance, the man who mended the leaking 
roof with porous plasters. 

But for the benefit of those who are not supplied with a 
stock of porous plasters I wdll tell how to do the plumbing 
and how to mend the tin roof with old bits of tin, rags, 
and white lead; and to begin with I want to impress upon 
the reader's mind that this will be no bungling, unsightly 
piece of work, but much more durable and just as neat as 
any piece of work which the professionals would do for 
him. In the first place, if you have an old tin roof on one 
of the extensions of your house or on your house itself, 
do not be in haste to replace it with a new one. Remem- 
ber that most of the modern sheet tin is made by modern 
methods and its life is not an extended one. The sheet 
steel they often use in place of sheet iron rapidly disin- 
tegrates and such a roof will not last you half the time 
that a properly patched old one will. 

The roof of the house in which I am writing this article 
is made of tin and was made about sixty years ago; it 
has been patched and mended but to no great extent, 
and it bids fair to outlive me. Had it been made of sheet 
steel it would have been necessary to renew it many times 
since that period. So, if you find that the tin roof to 
your farmhouse, bungalow, or camp leaks in consequence 
of some splits at the seams and a few rust holes patch 
them yourself. Fig. 301 shows the only material neces- 
sary for that purpose. You do not even need a pair of 

Tar Pamper, Birch Bark, or Patent Roofing 227 

shears to cut your tin, for it is much better folded over 
and hammered into shape, as shown by Fig. 301. Fig. 302 
shows a crack and some rust holes in the tin roof. Take 
your carpet-tacks and hammer and neatly tack down the 
edges of the opening, as shown by Fig. 303. If there is 
any difficulty in driving tacks through the tin roof, use 
a small wire nail and hammer to first punch the holes. 
Put the tacks close together. With your paint-brush 
thickly coat the mended parts with w^hite lead, as shown 
by Fig. 304. Cut a strip of a rag to fit over the holes and 
tack it at its four corners, as show^n by Fig. 305. Now, 
then, cover the rag with a thick coat (Fig. 306) of the 
w^hite lead. Next tack the tin over the wounded spots, 
putting the tacks close together, as shown by Fig. 306. 
Afterward coat the tin with a covering of white lead and 
the patchwork is done. The roof will not leak again at 
those spots in the next twenty years. This wdll leave 
white, unsightly blotches on the roof, but after the white 
lead is dry a few dabs with the red roof paint will make 
the white patches the same color as the surrounding tin 
and effectually conceal them. 

Do not forget the importance of carefully going over 
your roof after it is mended and make sure that every 
joint is properly covered, tacked, and thoroughly coated 
with white lead. Cover all joints, nails, and caps with a 
coat of white lead. Water will not run through the tin 
roofing, but it will find its way through nail holes, rust 
holes, and open seams if they are not made absolutely 


After I had finished doctoring up the kitchen roof of 
my farmhouse, I discovered that the drain-pipe from the 
kitchen sink had a nasty leak where the pipe ran through 

228 Shelters^ Shacks, and Shanties 

the cellar. Of course, there was no plumber handy — ■ 
plumbers do not live in farming districts — so it was ''up 
to" me and my helper to stop the leak as best we could. 
A few blows on the lead with the hammer, carefully ad- 
ministered, almost closed the hole. I then had recourse 
to the white lead w^hich I had been using on the kitchen 
roof, and I daubed the pipe with paint; still the w^ater 
oozed through; but after I had applied a strip of linen to 
the leak and then neatly wrapped it round and painted 
the whole of it with white lead the leak was effectually 
stopped, and the pipe is apparently as good now, six years 
after the mending, as it was when it was new\ 

In this sort of work it must be remembered that it is 
the white lead we depend upon, and the other material 
which we use — the tin and the rags — are only for the pur- 
pose of protecting and holding the white lead in place. 
Of course, a roof may be mended with tar, but that is 
always unsightly and insists upon running when heated 
by a hot sun; besides, it is most difficult to conceal and 
does not come ready for use like white lead. 

If the leak happens to be around the chimney it can be 
mended by bending pieces of tin up against the chinmey 
according to the diagram shown for the tar paper and 
patent roofings (Figs. 295 and 297). 

Flashings, Chimneys, Walls, Etc. 

Lead or copper is best for flashings, but in case metal 
is not convenient you will find that various patent roofing 
materials are good substitutes. Run the strips of roofing 
to the angle formed by the object to be flashed and extend 
the same up the object three or four inches. Fasten these 
strips to the roof in the usual way or by nailing cleats 
of wood over the top edges. 

Leaks in tubs, barrels, and tanks used about the farm 

Tar Payer, Birch Bark, or Patent Roofing 229 

can be mended with rags, tin, and white lead in the man- 
ner described for the roof and pipe. Also leaks in the 
leaders running from the roof may be treated in the same 
manner, but if you must get new leaders for your house by 
no means replace the old ones with galvanized-steel tubes. 
You can tell the difference between galvanized steel and 
galvanized iron by its appearance. The steel is brighter 
and m_ore silvery than the iron, but my experience is 
that the steel will last only two or three years; sometimes 
one season puts steel pipes out of commission, whereas 
galvanized iron will last indefinitely. After having three 
sets of galvanized-steel leaders on my town house, I had 
them replaced with copper leaders; for, although the ex- 
pense is greater, I have found it more economical in the 
end. For people having plenty of money to spend on 
their country houses I would advise the use of copper 
leaders, but folks of limited means will save money patch- 
ing up the old tin ones or old galvanized ones instead of 
replacing them with galvanized steel, which is of little 
service for outdoor wear. There are, I believe, only a 
few firms who now manufacture galvanized iron, but your 
architect can find them if you insist upon it. 



It was because the writer knew that a great many men 
and all the boys rebelled against the conventionalities and 
restrictions of a modern house that he first invented and 
suggested the surprise den and told how to make one 
years ago in the Outing magazine. Since that article ap- 
peared the idea has been adopted by a numer of people. 
There is a beautiful one in Toledo, O., where the writer 
was entertained during the floods, and Doctor Root, of 
Hartford, Conn., has even a better one in his home in 
that Yankee city. Fig. 308 shows a rough sketch of a 
corrier of Doctor Root's surprise den which he calls his 

From the outside of the house there is no indication of 
anything upon the inside that may not be found in any 
conventional dwelling, which is the proper way to build 
the surprise den. 

Figs. 307, 309, and 310 are sketches made as suggestions 
to those wishing to add the surprise den to their dwelling. 

To fathers and mothers ha\dng sons anywhere from 
twelve to thirty years of age, it is almost a necessity now- 
adays to give these boys a room of their own, popularly 
known as the ''den," a retreat where they can go and sit 
in a chair without having fancy embroidered tidies adhere 
to their coat collars, where they can lean back in their 
chairs, if they choose, with no danger of ruining the valu- 



232 Shelters^ Shacks, and Shanties 

able Hepplewhite or breaking the claw feet off a rare 
Chippendale — a place where they can relax. The greater 
the contrast between this room and the rest of the house, 
the greater will be the enjoyment derived by the boys 
to whom it belongs. The only two surprise dens which I 
have personally visited are the pride of the lives of two 
gentlemen who are both long past the years generally ac- 
corded to youth, but both of them are still boys in their 
hearts. The truth is a surprise den appeals to any man 
with romance in his soul; and the more grand, stately, 
and formal his house may be, the greater will the contrast 
be and the greater the surprise of this den. It is a unique 
idea and makes a delightful smoking-room for the gentle- 
men of the house as well as a den for the boys of the 

If the reader's house is already built, the surprise den 
may be erected as an addition; it may be built as a log 
cabin after the manner of any of those previously described 
in this book, or it may be made an imitation log cabin by 
using slabs and nailing them on the walls in place of real 
whole logs. Doctor Root's surprise den, or ^^oggery," is 
made of whole logs and chinked with moss. Fig. 310 is 
supposed to be made of slabs, half logs, or puncheons 
nailed to the walls and ceiling and so arranged that the 
visitor cannot detect the deception. Personally, however, 
I do not like deception of any sort and would recommend 
that the house be made, if possible, of whole logs; but 
whatever way you build it, remember that it must have 
a generous, wide fireplace, a crane, and a good hearth- 
stone, and that your furniture must either be made of the 
material to be found in the woods or selected from the 
antique furniture of some old farmhouse, not mahogany 
furniture, but Windsor chairs, three-legged stools, and 
deal- wood tables — such furniture as might be found in an 
old pioneer's home. 


234 Shelters, Shades, and Shanties 

The principal thing to the surprise den, however, is the 
doorw^ay. The outside of the door — that is, the side seen 
from the main part of the house — should be as formal as 
its surroundings and give no indication of what might 
be on the other side. If it opens from the most formal 
room in the house, so much the better. Fig. 321 shows 
the outside of the door of the surprise den ; I do not mean 
by this outside of the house but a doorway facing the 
dining-room, library, drawing-room, or parlor. Fig. 321 
shows one side of the door and Fig. 322 the other side of 
the same door. In this instance one side of the door is 
supposed to have a bronze escutcheon and a glass knob 
(Figs. 315 and 316). Of course, any other sort of a knob 
(Fig. 313) will answer our purpose, but the inside, or the 
surprise-den side, of the door must have 

A Wooden Latch 

After some experiments I discovered that this could be 
easily arranged by cutting a half-round piece of hard- 
wood (F, Fig. 312) to fit upon the square end G of the 
knob (Figs. 311 and 313) and be held in place with a 
small screw (Fig. 314). When this arrangement is made 
for the door and the knob put in place as it is in Figs. 315 
and 316, a simple wooden latch (Fig. 317) with the catch i^ 
(Fig. 319) and the guard (Fig. 320) may be fastened upon 
the den side of the door as shown by K, L, (Fig. 317). 
When the door is latched the wooden piece F fits under- 
neath the latch as shown by Fig. 317. Wlien the knob is 
turned, it turns the half disk and lifts the latch E as shown 
in Fig. 318; this, of course, opens the door, and the visitor 
is struck with amazement upon being ushered into a 
pioneer backwoods log cabin, where after-dinner coffee 
may be served, where the gentlemen may retire to smoke 
their cigars, where the master of the house may retire. 

tQ r- 

236 Shelters, Shacks , and Shanties 

free from the noise of the children, to go over his accounts, 
write his private letters, or simply sit before the fire and 
rest his tired brain by watching the smoke go up the 

Here also, over the open fire, fish, game, and chickens 
may be cooked, as our grandams and granddaddies 
cooked them, and quaint, old-fashioned luncheons and 
suppers served on earthenware or tin dishes, camp style. 
In truth, the surprise den possesses so many charming 
possibilities that it is destined to be an adjunct to almost 
every modern home. It can be enclosed within the walls 
of a city house, a suburban house, or added as a wing to a 
country house, but in all cases the outside of the surprise 
den should conform in material used and general appear- 
ance to the rest of the house so as not to betray the secret. 



The great danger with rustic work is the temptation, to 
which most builders yield, to make it too fancy and intri- 
cate in place of practical and simple. Figs. 323, 324, 325, 
and 326 are as ornamental as one can make them without 
incurring the danger of being overdone, too ornate, too 
fancy to be really appropriate. 

Which Would You Rather Do or Go Fishing? 

Fig. 328 is a gate made of upright logs with bevelled 
tops protected by plank acting as a roof, and a flat- 
tened log fitting across the top. The gate and fence, 
you may see, are of simple construction; horizontal logs 
for the lower part keep out small animals, upright posts 
and rails for the upper part keep out larger animals and 
at the same time do not shut out the view from the 
outside or the inside of the enclosure. Fig. 324 shows 
a roof gateway designed and made for the purpose of 
supplying building sites for barn swallows or other use- 
ful birds. The fence for this one is a different arrange- 
ment of logs, practical and not too fancy. Fig. 325 shows 
a modification of the gate shown by Fig. 323; in this one, 



Ho t i''^''*^ 1 ji— * ^~— • . 


Gateways 239 

however, in place of a plank protecting bevelled edges of 
the upright logs, two flattened logs are spiked on like 
rafters to a roof, the apex being surmounted by a bird- 
house. Fig. 326 shows another gateway composed of 
two upright logs with a cross log overhead in which holes 
have been excavated for the use of white-breasted swal- 
lows, bluebirds, woodpeckers, or flickers. Fig. 327 is 
another simple but picturesque form of gateway, where 
the cross log at the top has its two ends carved after 
the fashion of totem-poles. In place of a wooden fence 
a stone wall is shown. The ends of the logs (Fig. 327), 
which are embedded in the earth, should first be treated 
with two or three coats of creosote to prevent decay; 
but ^ince it is the moisture of the ground that causes 
the decay, if you arrange your gate-posts like those shown 
in the vertical section (Fig. 328), they will last practically 
forever. Note that the short gate-post rests upon several 
small stones with air spaces between them, and pointed 
ends of the upright logs rest upon one big stone. The 
gate-post is fastened to the logs by crosspieces of board 
running horizontally from log to the post, and these are 
enclosed inside the stone pier so that they are concealed 
from view. This arrangement allows all the water to 
drain from the wood, leaving it dry and thus preventing 
decay. Fig. 329 shows another form of gate-post of more 
elaborate structure, surmounted by the forked trunk of a 
tree; these parts are supposed to be spiked together or 
secured in place by hardwood pegs. 

Never forget to add the bird-house or bird shelter to 
every gateway you make; it is more important than the 
gate itself. In my other books I have described and told 
how to make various forms of bird-houses, including my 
invention of the woodpecker's house now being manu- 
factured by many firms, including one in Germany, but the 
reader should make his own bird-houses. I am glad the 

242 Shelters, Shacks, and Shanties 

manufacturers have taken up these ideas for the good they 
will do the birds, but the ideas were published first solely 
for the use of the boys in the hopes of educating them 
both in the conservation of bird life and in the manual 
training necessary to construct bird-houses. 

The reader must have, no doubt, noticed that the 
problems in this book have become more and more diffi- 
cult as we approach the end, but this is because everything 
grows; as we acquire skill we naturally seek more and 
more difficult work on which to exercise our skill. These 
gateways, however, are none of them too difficult for the 
boys to build themselves. The main problem to over- 
come in building the picturesque log gateway shown by 
Fig. 331 is not in laying up the logs or constructing the 
roof — the reader has already learned how to do both in the 
forepart of this book — but it is in so laying the logs that 
the slant or incline on the two outsides will be exactly the 
same, also in so building the sides that when you reach 
the top of the open way and place your first overhead log, 
the log will be exactly horizontal, exactly level, as it must 
be to carry out the plan in a workmanlike manner. Fig. 
330 shows you the framework of the roof, the ridge-pole of 
which is a plank cut ''sway-backed," that is, lower in the 
centre than at either end. The frame should be roofed 
with hand-rived shingles, or at least hand-trimmed shin- 
gles, if you use the manufactured article of commerce. 
This gateway is appropriate for a common post-and-rail 
fence or any of the log fences illustrated in the previous 
diagrams. Fig. 332 shows how the fence here shown is 
constructed: the A logs are bevelled to fit in diagonally, 
the B and C logs are set in as shown by the dotted line in 
Fig. 332. A gateway like the one shown here would 
make a splendid and imposing one for a permanent camp, 
whether it be a Boy Scout, a Girl Pioneer, a private camp 
for boys, or simply the entrance to a large private estate. 

Gateways 243 

The writer has made these diagrams so that they may 
be used by men or boys; the last one shows a gateway 
large enough to admit a "four-in-hand" stage-coach or an 
automobile, but the boys may build it in miniature so 
that the opening is only large enough to admit a pe- 

The End 




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